art history paper 1

art history paper 1 - Kelsey Schur Art, Politics, and...

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Kelsey Schur Art, Politics, and Culture, Paper 1 TA Nicole Evans 2/20/08 Infanta Maria Theresa, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez The Spanish Golden Age did not translate into mountains of gold in King Philip IV's treasury. To the contrary, territories were breaking away from the Spanish Habsburg empire, gold was not flowing from the Americas the way it once did, and the monarchy was running out of money. I In this situation, it became even more critical for the children of King Philip IV to make good marriages and through them alliances. In 1653, King Philip IV ordered his court painter, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez, to create three oil on canvas portraits of his fifteen-year-old daughter Maria Theresa to send to possible suitors in France, Brussels, and Austria in order to attract a good marriage. II Velázquez needed to portray the Infanta Maria Theresa as possessing all of the ideal qualities of a bride of the seventeenth century. She must be virginally pure, youthful, womanly, and learned in the proper courtly manners. Any artist, no matter his era, would be challenged to bestow these qualities upon a fifteen- year-old girl, no matter her upbringing. However, on viewing the Infanta Maria Theresa today in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, the viewer would be struck to hear that the young woman portrayed with such a collected demeanor was only fifteen at the time of the painting. To portray Maria Theresa with the ideal traits necessary in a future queen and in the most flattering light possible, Velázquez employed the symbolism of color and objects, composition, and the tenebrist style characteristic of those who had studied in the era of Caravaggio. The colors of this portrait are fresh and clean – whites, roses, blue-greens, and even the greys have a touch of blue. The white of Maria Theresa's dress expresses her purity and virginity, an essential quality for any seventeenth century bride-to-be. The other colors show her youth and health, that she is
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in the spring of her life. Placing the rose collar near to her face brings out the rose in her cheeks, making the princess appear in the best possible health. Using brown in the background could be risky to the overall lively feeling, but Velázquez wisely uses some green in this brown to prevent it from
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art history paper 1 - Kelsey Schur Art, Politics, and...

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