There are compelling similarities and differences between the famous French artists and painters Eduardo Manet and Edgar Degas. It is important to observe that the two artists lived within the same period in history that was characteristic of massive transformation on the issues concerning drawing and painting. Both of them acknowledge the fact that the philosophies of realism and impressionism greatly influenced their painting style. Eduardo Manet’s painting The Dead Christ with Angels of 1864, and Edgar Degas’s Dance Lesson c.1879 are of significance in the realms of famous paintings.
Eduardo Manet, the Dead Christ with Angels, 1864
It is clear that the painting Dead Christ with Angels is conspicuous artwork that exist with only a few impressions, the artist used the various colors sparingly and precisely to reveal a picture that is characteristic of the real body of Christ with a fleshy body. The blend of colors and the fine brushwork, the rough surface of the tomb and the visible contours the painter used culminates into superimposing and realistic figure of Christ with two angels besides him. The conspicuous fleshy body of Christ as depicted in the painting was a controversial issue for some critics, who dismiss the picture as being vulgar (Elderfield 48).
A critical look at the lithography of the painting of The Dead Christ with Angels reveals a compelling and skillful use of marks of light paints and fine brush. Manet has successfully used etching in a new but conspicuously expressive manner to portray the real picture of Christ in the tomb and the two angels Manet uses a plethora of marks with accurate and precise elements to delineate the subject clearly (Armstrong 14).
It is evident that Manet used appropriately the long and short lines in order to expose the muscular curves on the body of Christ and the two angels. In order to expose the muscles, the artist was able to juxtapose the thick as well as thin lines appropriately. The artist equally used a blend of different colors and a dense network of parallel lines in order to meticulously expose the wings of the angels.
The author‘s use of the light paint in order to delineate the lighted areas at the top of the image where the angels and the body of Christ is appealing to the eye. There is also an appropriate use of a few bold lines that are characteristic of thick paint. The various thick lines crudely cross thatched to expose a dark background of the tomb.
History of Eduardo Manet
The artist and painter Eduardo Manet was born in the year 1832 in a wealthy upper class household in Paris. He was exposed to formal education, but his preoccupation was not so much inclined to academics. His major attraction was to engage in drawing as well as art. His friendship with Antonin Proust, who later became a French minister of Fine Art, rekindled his desire to pursue art and drawing as his career. He had a plethora of friends and relatives, who motivated him to pursue art not only as a form of enjoyment but also as a career (Boggs 48).
Manet’s desire to practice art and painting was informed by the philosophy to shift from realism to impressionism that characterized the society not only in France, but also the whole of Europe. The concept of realism was prevalent in the late 19th century, which championed the fact that a painter should always endeavor to represent the physical word exactly as it is. This was to be done without regard to individual’s social principles that an artist holds. Any painting or work of art that was produced during the time was judged according to the moral standards of the society. Any piece of art, either a sculpture or painting, was viewed as being morally wrong as well as wicked because in one way or another it contravened the conventional standards of the society. On the other hand, the concept of impressionism that had its genesis in France between the year of 1860 and 1900 quickly spread to other parts of the world. The impressionists were critical of the academic interpretation of art (Armstrong 24). They wanted a form of art that depicted light in its ever changing qualities with the time of the day. They were known to paint in the outdoor. The impressionists, therefore, produced paintings where the artist always used unmixed primary colors and small brush sticks in order to imitate areal reflected light.
The desire to shift from realism to impressionism is what motivated Eduardo Manet to involve in painting. The modern artist believed that art had evolved greatly. It is evident that the intention of any artist was to have a vision for the future through various forms of art. It is important to pinpoint that most artists during the period tended to capture various artistic forms through touching on the subject of religion. The issue of religion during the period of time was a controversial issue. Therefore, any artist who introduced the paintings, sculpture or other artistic object touching on the concept of religion emerged into the limelight.
The Dead Christ with Angels painting is a controversial artwork that shows the image of two angels sitting with Jesus Christ who is dead in the tomb. It is evident that Manet misrepresented a biblical tale. Whereas the Bible talks that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and found it empty, his painting shows the presence of Christ and the two angels. His painting also shows that Jesus had a wound on the left side, where as the Bible talks of Jesus having a wound on the right side.
The choice of the artist to paint the two angels and Jesus in the tomb was to reflect a tale in the Bible. It is important to pinpoint that the issue of religion and especially Christianity has been embraced by people for a long time. Artists have the tendency to use their artistic prowess to capture various social, economic, and religious aspects of their society. Therefore, the depiction of Jesus in the tomb with the two angels is a vivid description of the core teachings in the Bible as well as Christianity.
The painting is a constant reminder for the Christians about the sacrifices that Jesus made for humanity. Manet summarized the issues through the painting in an effort to capture the core teachings of the Christian religion. It is crucial to observe that the painting was greatly vilified by some critics, who argue that it lacked the elements of spirituality, with which Jesus is associated. The pronounced muscles as depicted in the painting and the misplaced facts about the position of the wound made critics to dismiss the painting as unrealistic and unworthy. It is undeniable that the life experiences, controversies and the philosophies that existed during his childhood year in France and generally in Europe shaped painting prowess and the subject of Manet’s paintings.
Edgar Degas, Dance Lesson, c.1879
The Dance Lesson is a carefully and skillfully an oil on canvas painting done by Edgar Degas from France. The painting is in the format of a horizontal frieze. The artwork shows an exhausted dance with a sash that has been painted in orange color. The violin case besides the dancer is still visible, although painted with a light color. The picture is conspicuous because of the artist’s choice of bright colors especially for the dancers and the wall. The painting also reveals a dancer comfortably sitting in the chair. At the same time, there is another dancer facing away from the sitting dancer, and she is busy adjusting her sash, which is dark colored. Towards the far right corner of the painting a group of dancers are rehearsing their moves by a large window that is visible from far. The various description and details that are seen in the painting areas result from a careful use of bright colors with fine brushes to show the contrast in the colors.
The artist uses a mixture of dark and bright colors to expose the difference in the clothing of the various dancers. Degas has successfully managed to use various shades of color to show the distance between the dancers. The picture shows a queue of dances, which is possible by creatively using different density of paint to achieve space and intervals in panting. The surface, upon which the dances are standing, appears rough.
The painting has been appropriately cropped and the contour work is sketchy. It is important to note that the contours are emphasized in a compelling manner. Degas has appropriately managed to use a combination of bright, dark as well as light elements in the painting to show the body posture of the dancers. The picture therefore shows a bright and joyous moods as the dancers seem to enjoy what they are doing.
Background of Edgar Degas
Degas was born in Paris France in a moderately rich family. He later on graduated with a bachelor’s degree in literature. It is evident that Degas immersed himself in the art of painting at a very early age. It is interesting to note that by the time he was eighteen, he had turned his house into an art studio. It is important to note that that he was so preoccupied with the art of painting at a tender age at the expense of his studies just like Monet. His parents pressured him to enroll for a law course, which he was never successful at. His long time mentor Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres was a great inspiration, especially in motivating him to become ran statute artist. He kept encouraging Degas to keep drawing more lines (Armstrong 24).
His skills at drawing and painting were honed after he enrolled in an arts college. He later moved to Italy, where he practiced his artistic prowess in drawing and painting. It is important to point out that Degas drew influence and inspiration from the renaissance artists. Degas frequently painted the portraits of individual close to him as well as groups he encountered. His early paintings reflected the tension that existed between men and women. His painting from early life exhibited a mature style that was later developed by cropping of various subjects and holding uncommon viewpoints with his colleagues.
The ability to become a classical artist was rekindled during his stay in Italy, where he became an enthusiastic copyist. His return to Paris in 19873 resulted in joining a group of young artists, who were doing artistic exhibitions; Degas took a leading role in the exhibitions. Degas was quite critical of the fellow French artists, such as Monet, as well as other landscapes painters, whom he mocked painting in the outdoors. Degas was conservative in his social attitude. In fact, he greatly hated the idea of fellow artists seeking publicity and engaging in advertising to expose their artistic work.
Degas style of painting is impressionism. He endeavored to use insufficient descriptions but was always understandable. The major focus for the impressionist art was that the painters wanted to reflect the reality of the world. The realities of the world were expressed using bright and dazzling colors. The goal of Degas paintings was to reflect the effects of light with the hope of infusing radiantly the scenes (Boggs 63).
It is evident that most artists want to portray the issues in their immediate environment in their artistic work. Dancing is a social activity that every community participates in. Dancing is done during various functions. The artists’ use of the bright colors and the costumes indicate that the mood is joyous. The dancers appear to be pleased with what they are doing. The painting is simple to understand. Any good artist or painter should endeavor to ensure that he/she pass the message to the audience with ease. Therefore, Degas has skillfully employed various tones of colors with precise brush work to portray a compelling painting that is not only appealing to the eye, but also captures the mood that is prevalent. Dancing is a social activity. Degas ensures that there are a group of dancers in the picture, who are engaged in the different stages of dancing. He believes in the concept of impressionism. The major strength of Degas is that he creates a painting that reflects the reality about the daily experiences of the people. His painting is simple and it shows the experiences that common people go through in their day to day encounters. Therefore, the painting is worth admiring.
It is evident that the two artists, Eduardo Manet and Edgar Degas, in their respective paintings The Dead Christ with Angels of 1864 and Dance Lesson, capture pertinent issues in the societies that they live in. The role of any artist is to capture the various experiences of human beings and the issues that affect them. The paintings highlight creative blending of colors and skillful brushwork.