Formal Analysis: The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
Cal Baptist University
The painting from Leonardo da Vinci, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne was drawn in 1503 to 1519 an oil on canvas painting. Da Vinci’s use of light and dark balance within the painting describes a realism on the canvas. Leonardo da Vinci’s work steeped in beauty and balance becomes a poignant portrait of Christ and his early life. Da Vinci’s work through color and medium help to create a three-dimensional piece rather than a two-dimensional painting. Visual emphasis on positioning of the figures help to convey emotional meaning. Leonardo Da Vinci’s work is a blueprint of modern works of art to this day.
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne created by Leonardo da Vinci utilizes formal elements in his design of the painting to communicate emotion with his brushstroke and canvas. Da Vinci’s paints implied lines to draw viewers through the painting to focal points he desired. This technique used to highlight a point or object within a work so that the viewer focuses on specific pieces. Theodore Gericualt’s The Raft of the Medusa applies the same technique using triangles to draw the viewer to a specific point on the canvas. The implied line technique artist employs as a focal point within a chaotic painting. The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne use the technique to focus on both Christ as a child, but to also draw the viewers eye back up to Saint Anne’s face creating a balance within the painting. Da Vinci uses the focal point of the canvas to be the women and child at the bottom instead of the natural focal point in the center of the work. In other paintings the center of the painting would create a natural focal point. Da Vinci uses the three women instead to create a focal point that is not at the center of the painting. Balancing the background with the foreground, Da Vinci uses asymmetrically balanced painting to creating an even canvas.
Da Vinci practices atmospheric or aerial perspective within the painting to suggest a three-dimensional space on the canvas. Distant objects like the one in the painting have a cooler tone within the background. In the painting the clouds and mountain have a cooler tonal note giving this suggestion of distance within the two-dimensional canvas. Da Vinci’s Madonna of the Rocks applies the same technique to the painting, proposing the work appear more three-dimensional than two dimensions. The visual weight in the painting The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne conveys a lightness to both the virgin and the child, but a heaviness to the Saint by giving her more enlarged features over the other figures. Her body is greater than that of the virgins. Da Vinci’s visual balance within the paint gives the viewer an even canvas to look at and the use of the space is well proportioned to items highlighted.
In the work, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne da Vinci’s medium chosen was oils. Mediums play a large part in conveying emotion within a painting or sculpture. Artists used a variety in their works. For example, George Seurat, The Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte choice in colors included more primary pallet. Pigments were used in the oil as the coloring agent to create the hue or color of the oil paint that became popular in the 15th century. Da Vinci used both secondary and immediate colors in the painting instead of bright primary colors. The color scheme used appeared to be a monochromatic color scheme, disallowing the painting to become bright or ingenuine to the artist original concept. Da Vinci’s use of lighter colors helped to create a healthy warm appearance to the figures giving the painting positivity.
Da Vinci’s The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne uses positioning within the canvas to establish space within a two-dimensional work by placing objects closer to the viewer lower and objects farther away higher in the painting. Gotto’s Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints used this technique to create a three-dimensional space on the canvas. Emphasizing the Madonna’s large stature within the canvas. Da Vinci used implied visual texture within the canvas to create a smooth painting. Michelangelo’s Pieta has an enlarged view of Mary holding Jesus. By using texture an artist can emphasis and add focus to what they wish to highlight. Da Vinci painting highlights the muscle, hands and feet creating a lifelike model of the portrait. The ground, vegetation and clothing of the canvas is given texture which allows Da Vinci to transport depth to the painting. Leonardo Da Vinci’s created soft facial expressions for the canvas, shadowing the figures as if in the sun giving a life-like quality to the painting.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne uses formal elements to tell a story behind the painting. Completed in 1805 in oil on canvas it utilizes simple elements to convey greater depth. Da Vinci’s artwork is a ruler for all other artwork to be measured against.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Adams, L. S. (2003). Looking At Art . Prentice Hall Inc.
Cal Baptist Blackboard Art 202 Week 2. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://calbaptist.blackboard.com/bbcswebdav/pid-4035336-dt-content-rid-66652139_1/courses/2018-FA-E2-ART202-CE/2018-FA-E2-ART202-CE_ImportedContent_20181002010743/2018-FA-E1-ART202-AE_ImportedContent_20180730011350/2018-SU-E1-ART202-AE_ImportedContent_20
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