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The Emerald Pool by Albert Bierstadt, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Upon the visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art, three paintings were chosen for analysis; they include The Emerald Pool painted by Albert Bierstadt in 1870, The Old Mill painted by Jasper Francis Cropsey in 1876, and The Piazza Farnese Decorated for a Celebration in Honor of the Marriage of the Dauphin painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini in 1745. It is necessary to note that the first two works were painted in the 1870s by the representatives of the Hudson River painting school in the USA, while the third painting was produced more than a century earlier by the Italian Baroque painter. Each of the works represents its own subject matter; however, every work may be perceived with a different measure of appeal, not only due to the choice of the subject matter, but also because of the approach to delineating the artistic forms, lines, choosing the color palette, texture, and balance of paintings.

The Emerald Pool by Albert Bierstadt, as McGrath noted, represents the manifestation of the Western grandeur of the US nature; its subject is the White Mountain scenery that is approached from the vantage point of the “famed pool at the base of Pinkham Notch”, affording the painter to grasp the unity of the trees, river, clouds, and the mountain (169). The Emerald Pool depicts the “turbulent clouds”, and the “writhing trees”; the image of the White Mountain is blurry and unclear, standing far at the background of the image. However, at the same time, one can see that such approach to composition of the painting was highly successful, since in contrast to the sharply and clearly delineated trees and the log in the water at the foreground of the painting, the grandeur and hugeness of the White Mountain is multiplied by the fuzzy forms and partial covering of the clouds storming around its top.

McGrath admitted the Baroque influence in this painting, which is indeed true in case this painting is compared with the earlier paintings of Bierstadt attempting to render the photography-like realism of the scenery (169). Hence, The Emerald Pool is a much more aesthetic painting with the delicate distortion of certain forms for the achievement of a stronger poetic effect of the grand and proud untouched wilderness of the White Mountain.

The palette in which the painting is performed raises the appealing emotions, since it is a very realistic yet poetic landscape in which the foreground of the untouched woods approaching the river are juxtaposed to the white, blue, and gray shades of the sky and the mountain. The foreground elements are performed in dark brown, reddish, yellow, and green colors typical for the woods; the water in the river is also performed in dark tones, being overshadowed by the trees. Hence, the contrast between this dark point of perspective from which the White Mountain was seen by the painter adds the feeling is space, size, and distance of the mountain. Hence, as a result, the viewer sees a perfectly balanced painting with fine forms and lines that takes him or her to the untouched, wild, and beautiful place in the American woods near the footing of the White Mountain.

The Old Mill is also a perfect example of the Hudson River artistic flow; its subject matter is highly synonymous to that of Albert Bierstadt, but it approaches the US wilderness from another viewpoint. It is also a landscape, but it depicts not the wild nature, but the old water mill as a symbol of progress leaving the achievements of the past in desolation. The key object on the image is the water mill, though it is embedded very gently and harmoniously into the general landscape. The couple of people walking the bridge in the right-hand part of the image are also a significant element adding the feeling of complicity to the painting; they seem to symbolize the unity of nature, technology, and people. Hence, one can say that the elements of the composition unite into the well-perceived whole, and present the image of the American rural territory with the monuments of the recent past that naturally become the parts of the surroundings and unite with the environment (“The Old Mill”).

Cropsey used very delicate forms to create the natural landscape; some lines delineating the trees around the mill, and on the shores of the river are very sharp, which lets the viewer see every leaf on them; however, at the same time, some forms such as the river, people in the right-hand part of the painting, the mountain standing far at the background of the landscape, are painted fuzzily, with affluent lines and forms, which creates an indeed marvelous image of the contrast in lines, and adds to the realism of the perceived image. The most appealing about the painting is the choice of the palette by the painter; it is a rich and diverse color mixture in which the red mill is painted in bright color, which makes it stand out in the context of the mild autumn colors. Jasper Francis Cropsey specialized mostly in landscapes, so it is not surprising that he has managed to depict the natural autumn colors so realistically and at the same time softly by the skillful use of the pastel pink, mauve, and yellow colors (“The Old Mill”).

These two paintings produce a very appealing impression on the viewer, since they are well balanced, and depict the chosen landscape in the well-mixed approach of blurriness and exactness. The choice of colors is very suitable and realistic, and the balance of colors is achieved professionally and at the same time creatively. In comparison with these two works, The Piazza Farnese Decorated for a Celebration in Honor of the Marriage of the Dauphin seems much more simplistic. The color palette is less diverse, and the lines of the buildings surrounding the piazza seem unfinished and sketchy, which leaves the impression of the lax attitude of the painter to details and to the overall impression that the painting as an artistic creation is likely to cause (“The Piazza Farnese Decorated for a Celebration in Honor of the Marriage of the Dauphin”). The core meaning of the painting was to design the celebration scenery, which was the purpose of producing the work – Giovanni Paolo Panini thus did not take much effort in painting the sky and the clouds, the buildings to the right and to the left from the piazza, and especially the building behind the scenery installed on the piazza. The depiction seems more schematic than artistic; the lines are not firm, and the composition lacks the original artistic touch that distinguishes all memorable works of art. Adding some peculiarities, some noteworthy details to people, to the buildings, etc. would make the work much more impressive, and would make the composition more successful.

Works Cited

Bierstadt, Albert. “The Emerald Pool”. 1870. Chrysler Museum of Art.

Cropsey, Jasper Francis. “The Old Mill”. 1876. Chrysler Museum of Art. Web. 1 Dec 2012. <http://collection.chrysler.org/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/217/419/title-asc>

McGrath, Robert L. Gods in Granite: The Art of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. New York, NY: Syracuse University Press. 2001. Print.

Panini, Giovanni Paolo. “The Piazza Farnese Decorated for a Celebration in Honor of the Marriage of the Dauphin”. 1765. Chrysler Museum of Art. Web. 1 Dec. 2012. <http://collection.chrysler.org/emuseum/view/objects/asitem/220/388/title-asc>

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