The two renowned artists Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) and Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) are both good role models for the progressing art society but when comparing these two gifted men it is evident that their artworks both relinquish a different message to the viewers and are portrayed using different art techniques and equipment. Leonardo, born to be known as the archetype of a Renaissance man, was an Italian painter, inventor, mathematician, writer, and engineer.
He was explicitly known for his realistic, geometrically designed and religiously inspired paintings. Renoir, however, was a French man who devoted his life to introduce the impressionist style to the art community. As a true worshiper of natural beauty and feminine aura, Renoir’s painting symbolized the entire liveliness of French culture and European scenes. Leonardo’s style of painting was influenced greatly during the formation of the Renaissance period that first emerged in Italy during the 14th to the 17th century.
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It was a new era in which European scholars craved for greater knowledge of medieval times and Italy was their primary source for it contained the great art and architecture of Rome and held manuscripts that scholars studied to learn the lives of the early Romans and Greek. Thus most themes of Leonardo’s paintings portray religious beliefs and mythology. Its art revolved in finished images comparable to reality and the colours conservative, brush strokes concealed, leaving no trace of the artist’s emotions or techniques. Impressionism, however, opposed the entire concept of Renaissance art.
Initiated by French artist, Claude Monet during the late 1870’s in France and soon followed by more painters one of which leading them is Pierre Auguste Renoir, conflicted the techniques of French art Schools and ignored their Euclidian perspectives and took advantage of the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution brought the popularity of the camera, metal tubes were invented and so paint was achieved in a fast yet cheap way, people had more leisure time and places such as parks, malls, stores, circuses were easily established.
Painters like Auguste Renoir had more subject matters and the opportunity to paint and observe the fleeting moment of light outside instead of relying on their memory and paint inside a studio. Most of Leonardo’s buyers are wealthy church organizations such as the Catholic Church that value realism as they will use them as either for cathedral decorations or another image worthy for worshiping. During the Renaissance period, if a patron is willing to buy for an artwork, he or she controls the subject matter, the completion date, the materials used and a set payment.
Artists were also required to show preliminary plans to be approved by the patron before the actual artwork was painted. Renoir, however, had buyers that appreciated his colorful artworks for the purpose of house decorations or family portraits. Artists like Renoir had more liberty in exhibiting and selling their works. Artists like Renoir painted outdoors and so people had the chance to observe how they capture the scenery in front of them thus, making it easier for them to be recognised. Renoir and Leonardo share different subject matters in their paintings yet they both possess the ability to dazzle the viewer.
Leonardo’s inspiration revolved mostly in religion which he greatly portrays in “St John the Baptist” where St John wears pellets and animal skin while holding loosely a reed staff with a cross at one end and uses his right hand to point up a feminine hand to heaven. On the other hand, Renoir’s passion relied on his deep adoration for feminine sensuality which he greatly conveys in “Nude in Lanscape” where a raven, shoulder length haired, naked woman sits on a rock covered with a long white sheet that she also uses to wipe her left ankle.
The woman’s body is facing sideways but her whole face is seen as she looks downward on the withering grasses. The scene is in a tiny forest during a lazy Sunday afternoon. Upon thoroughly studying these two artworks it is evident that the two artists use different colour schemes and art techniques in order to show the theme of their artwork. Leonardo portrays St John’s wavy, curled hair in an intense reddish brown colour to imply shadows while a neutralized pinkish brown to show a tint of shininess.
Leonardo also provides an empty, darkish background to achieve negative space in order to enhance his use of chiaroscuro on St John’s face and right arm. St John’s innocent, auburn eyes are darkened due to the heavy amount of yellow light coming from the foreground. St John’s pale lips are curled enigmatically giving the viewer the impression of whether he is pure good or evil. Renoir, on the other hand, uses a dark brown colour with short strokes of a midnight blue colour instead of black to darken it.
Renoir provides a vibrant background by using a cool orange to show shadows from the overlapping grasses and warm yellow to show the effects of light on the tree trunks and the withering grasses. The neutralized green on the tree’s foliage recede. The woman’s body is yellowish due to the amount of yellow light but her face is darkened. The highlights on her body are white. He uses cool purple to show shadows on the white sheet and the shallowness of the lake while a warm red on her body especially on her chubby breasts, slender back and rosy cheeks to create a sense of form.
It also makes the cool colours contrast with warm colours. The artist’s however both use gestural lines to implicate movement but have used them in different areas of their paintings. Leonardo uses gestural lines to show the liveliness of St John’s hair and contour lines to impeccably form St John’s realistic face, muscular right arm and while using the technique sfumato (which means applying translucent layers of colours) Leonardo was able to achieve a feeling of a three dimensional shape to the viewer finished with a smooth surface.
In contrast to Renoir who uses short, thick, gestural lines to show the continuous movement of his brush strokes in the entire painting providing a simulated texture. He applies wet paint to wet paint without waiting for the successive applications to dry, producing softer edges and intermingling of complementary colours Leonardo and Renoir share equal importance for how balanced light and dark are in their paintings. The intense dark background and the vibrancy of ellow light on St John’s face and arm provides a symmetrical balance and value contrast that can easily make St John’s face the emphasis and focal area. Conversely, Renoir uses the trees surrounded by deep shadows to poise the woman’s plump body in an asymmetrical balance of visual elements. Her face like St John also is the focal area in which the strongest light and dark value contrasts. St John the Baptist and Nude in Landscape are both oil paintings. But St John the Baptist was painted on walnut wood using tempera paints while Nude in Landscape was painted on canvas using the average metal tube paints.
St John’s pointing gesture towards the heavens shows the complete message of the painting that baptism which St John symbolizes is important in order for a human being to gain salvation. In Nude in Landscape, Renoir has the sole intention of conveying to the viewer his great love for portraying nude women and how he sees the fleeting changes of light on their tender flesh. Leonardo’s passion for portraying religious characters or biblical matters showed the world the great importance of religion and how it should never be forgotten.
He portrays his figures in a realistic manner to show viewers his great understanding of the human anatomy and how science and its necessity for thorough observation are related to art. Renoir, however, paints not to share a message to the world but rather show people the majestic effects of light in everything and to remind people that art is not a competition for talent, observation and fame but rather a deep visual expression for one’s perspectives and feelings in life.