Comparison Of Two Paintings Essay Research Paper

Comparison Of Two Paintings Essay, Research Paper

Paintings have been used to represent people since the beginning of the human race. Through time due to advancements in material and painting techniques combined with the ever-increasing talent of the artists, paintings representing people have become very lifelike and are extremely realistic. Some painted portraits have as much detail as modern photographs. However, there are also paintings of people that are representational in which the artist is trying to convey a message. This paper discusses the two types through the comparison of two paintings, Abaporu and Portrait of a Lady.

The painting are from two different time periods. Abaporu dates from 1928. The name of the artist is Tarsila do Amaral from Brazil. The painting is oil on canvas. Portrait of a Lady dates from 1490 by Domenico Ghirlandaio from Italy. Portrait of a Lady is tempera and oil on panel.

The word Abaporu means the man who eats in the Tupi-Garany language. The painting was a birthday gift to a mayor Brazilian writer and critic Osvaldo de Andrade in January of 1928 (Lucie-Smith 44). This is a representative painting. The painting is a single huge figure with a tiny head and enormous hands and feet. The colors are very bright warm and attractive. A cactus, the sun and the sky are the only background. The background keeps the painting very simple yet it fills the eye of the viewer. The hand and feet rest on the ground symbolizing intimate contact with the soil (Lucie-Smith 44).

The painting is clearly a man. However, Amaral does not keep the proper anatomical dimensions but rather elongates the extremities. The long extremities seem to place the head far from the soil. Nevertheless since the head is connected to the neck, the neck to the torso, the torso to the extremities and the extremities to the soil the head is also connected to the soil. The connection between the head and the soil signifies that mankind is dependant on earth for sustenance regardless of how high his head is above the earth. The representation on this painting is the connection between man king and earth. This connection was more obvious during the days of Amaral and in the socioeconomic environment of Brazil. Especially since Brazil is an agricultural country.

The other painting, Portrait of a Lady, is a realistic work of art. The author tries to imitate the subject as close as possible on the board. The use of warm and happy colors is also generous. According to the Clark Art Institute the painting represents and approach to portraiture that was new in the late fifteen century. The scholars believe that the subject was the wife of a Florentine merchant, Giovanna Albizzi. Also according to Clark, the orange blossom in her hand, a traditional adornment of brides, suggests the painting was a marriage portrait. The portrait features a serene background landscape that provides a lot of detail, adding depth to the painting. Behind the subject on the landscape the use of a vanishing point along with atmospheric perspective. The colors are cooler at the top of the painting, farther away objects, and warmer at the bottom of the painting, closer objects.

The two painting are similar in tree ways. Both depict a human being. The two paintings have very bright and vivid colors and both artists introduced an approach to their type of painting that was new at their time and place. Ghirlandaio obtained this with his charming characterization serene background landscape, unusual during his period. Amaral obtained this by been one of the first Latin American artist to combine incompatible European stiles such as Leger’s reclining women with Surrealism (Lucie-Smith 44).

The paintings however, have more dissimilarities than similarities. Abaporu is plain and simple. Portrait of a Lady is complex and full of detail. Abaporu is a representative painting where the artist is trying to portray her view and believes. Portrait of a Lady is realistic where the artist is trying to perpetuate the image of the subject at that point in time, trying to make the picture as close as possible to the original, in this case the subject. One portraits a Lady of the high society the other represents a man-eater.

Portrait of a Lady represents a culture of people preoccupied with status and good living. An established and old culture of civilized people with order and moral values that wants to preserve moments and images such as this painting. Abaporu represents a relatively new and emerging culture of people in Latin America that wants to learn more about its roots and precedence.


Lucie-Smith, Edward Latin American Art of the 20th Century. London:Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1993.

Clark Art Institute, European Paintings & Sculptures,.



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