Description Of Historical Painting Essay, Research Paper
Allegory of Charles I of England and Henrietta of France in a Vanitas
Oil on canvas painting as done by Frenchmen by the name of Simon Renard
de Saint-Andre between the years of 1669 and 1677. The main purpose in
evaluating this piece of work is to be aware and describe the physical
features, content and symbolization of this painting. This will undoubtedly
include the complexity of painting and historical content of the painting.
Allegory of Charles I of England and Henrietta of France in Vanitas has
many admirable physical features. At first glance , it is a massive painting.
It is much larger than other painting sand it seems to engulf the whole wall.
The large bulky frame of the painting is plain until your eyes wonder to the
top center of it. There is a large flat shell like protrusion surrounded by a
flower and imbedded in beads giving it a slight touch of class that it did not
have before. Starting from the top, are a low solemn dark atmosphere and
further down the painting you go the mood gets lighter and more colorful.
However the first thing we see at the top are four bubbles floating in the air.
They are floating up from a shell. The shell is resting in the hand of a white
stoned sculpted baby boy. The shell itself also holds four more
bubbles . They could represent the bubble s of life. Bubbles in general reflect
things, as in a mirror. Could these bubbles exemplify the life of a man? They
seem to be telling us of times to come or of times past.
Behind the baby are two half statures of women. They look Roman-like in
appearance. These classical busts have on robes of possibly something like a
toga. The statues seem to be in a darker background than the baby boy is . It
could be the background or it could be that during these times the Romans
were looked down upon and in this portrait they were neglected from the
light as Judas was in Leonardo?s Last Supper.
Going further down the picture, the light and the colors seem to seem
to get fuller and reach a maximum in very center. Similarly, to the right of
the statues sits a globe of the earth on the top of an atlas. One side of the
globe is more heavenly lighted than the other. The lighted side is America of
New World. May be the painter seems to think that light of God seems to
prefer to shine upon America rather than the rest of the world. His favor is
possibly upon the New World.
Right below the glove is a human skull. The jaw of the skull is
dislodged from the head while the head itself seems to be surrounded by
leaves that created a crowned look. A turned over candle stick lies to the
right of the skull. There is still an orange-red amber left at the tip of the wick
dark flowing smoke slowly away from it. This tells us the painter is
inevitably catching a moment in time. The candle has just blown out.
Under the skull are a set of eyes glasses and a piece of red ceiling wax.
They lie upon a few pieces of blank writing paper. The glasses could
possibly help us to see in the future or simply see things more clearly, while
the blank paper could mean that future is not yet written an is up to us to
determine. Going to the left of the viewer?s sight of the skull lies many
colorful, empty shells. They have different shapes and different sizes. They
seem to have come from many different places. To the left of the shell and
the farthest left of the painting , lies a medium sized piece of red coral. The
many branches seem to wonder off in infinite directions only to stop
suddenly . This could exemplify many journeys and paths taken through
All of these various items have been placed upon a red-velvet tablecloth.
The table seems to vanish into the background to darkness. There is also a
large light blue draper type cloth intermingled on the top of the base red
cloth.The whole picture and other contents are created solely for the purpose
of surrounding the main exhibit of the painting. This is two portraits in an
open book of elaborately dressed man and woman. This man and woman are
found to be Charles I of England and Henrietta of France. They both have
serious yet earnest look on their face that suggest a sense of earthly power
and glory. Most of the light of the entire painting is focused upon this
portrait. Though other parts contain some lighting, this part contains the
majority as if suggesting importance.
The symbols of the painting reveal themselves exclusively. The jawbone
separated from the skull and the overturned candlestick with smoke seems to
make a direct comparison to the violent beheaded death of Charles I.
Similarly , since the skull is crowned in leaves, it could become an idea of
victory over death. The darkness in the statues could mean the passing of a
great past civilization that is now extinct. The spectacles seem to help us see
through the initial illusions and see the painting for its real value. The empty
shell cold signify the death taken the mortal body, and with their association
With life giving water suggests a possible resurrection. Globe
represents the opening of New World which is North
All the objects tell the morality tale of life of King and Queen to the
I think that this painting is a success because the painting is historically
interesting , honorific document, an allegorical still-life rich in references
and completly rendered.
At first glance, I realized its historical background. Now I think it has much
more to offer than just history.