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Tower of Babel, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1189

Research Paper

Historical Background of the Artistic Work, Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel is a panel painting rooted to religion, which was commissioned by Antwerp Art, and currently is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (Silver, 2006). It was a second version of Tower of Babel in the Bible that was painted by Pieter Brueghel in 1563 in Rome. The third version of the painting was smaller and presented in wood. Currently, it is being shown in museums in Rotterdam. The creation of this painting is based on Genesis 11: 1-9 in which God confounded the people who had started to build the tower, a tower designed to reach the heavens. King Nimrod alongside his retinue appeared before the kowtowing crowd of workers who spoke in different languages. Although this event is not revealed in the Bible, Pieter used the information that was suggested by Flavius Josephus’ beliefs of the Jews. This information helped Pieter in underlining the pride of King Nimrod and his overbearing which in highlighted in the picture. Just as Saul suffered in The Suicide of Paul, Nimrod was punished for his pride. Both King Nimrod and Saul faced similar treatment that was administered by Dante in his artwork Purgatory. This picture was repainted by Lucas Van Valckenborgh in 1568, an artwork that is being shown at Alte Pinakothec Museum in Munich (Michel & Charles, 2012). All Pieter’s paintings have low-key composition, a feature that conforms to the current aesthetic guideline dictated by the Protestant Reformation Art.

Analysis and Reflections

The general shape of the tower is a huge structure engraved with spiral ramps, which were common in the Northern Renaissance Art, for instance, the book illumination. In addition, Pieter was inspired and motivated by the extraordinary architecture that originated from Coliseum in Rome (Michel & Charles, 2012). He was inspired by different facets of early sketches and reminiscences, or other prints produced by his publisher, Hieronymus Cock. In this era, Rome was referred to as the Eternal City that was built to last forever. This is the reason why the tower has a Babylonian meaning, but has a Roman design. A top view of the design indicates the ultimate failure of the building on basis of instability. A technical eye notes engineering discrepancies in the tower, rather than God’s decision to confuse the builders. The tower in the picture is placed in a coastal landscape near a river. This reflects that waterways, rather than country roads, were used to transport heavy goods in the 16th century (Bonn, 2006). The site and its subject hoped to mirror the conditions in Antwerp, where increase in growth of buildings had resulted in widespread problems. This picture acted as an allegorical warning to the city’s authority, a feature that was also reflected in Dulle Griet’s Mad Meg.

The illustrations of relentless efforts of masons, engineers, and laborers propose second moral, the worthlessness of human character. This is a repletion theme from Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools. Pieter reflects that a human being is a powerless entity, has no consequence, and controlled by the mercy of rhythms of years and natural seasons (Silver, 2006). The picture, Tower of Babel has meticulous details that relates to the design and construction of the building. To the right of the picture is a huge crane similar to the one enacted at the harbor in Grimani Breviary. The anti-like laborers are toiling loading large stone slabs that they receive from below. From the noticeable construction of the sidewalls, a worker is required to climb a ladder because of the unevenness of the walls’ section. Buildings stones used for construction were transformed from rocks to form a structured architecture after passing through a host of people. To the left, section of the façade is already complete. The constructers should stick a ladder out in the upper windows to pave way for the crowd of constructers on the roof. According to the traditions of Babylon, women are allowed to enter in one of the gates to the left (Bonn, 2006).

Another element of art in the picture is use of color and perspectives. Green color has dominated the landscape of the picture and the lower sections of the building. Green is a color of balance, harmony and security (Childress, 2008). In this picture, Pieter painted vegetation green to symbolize peace, hope, and modesty at the initial stages of construction. On the contrary, the paints the lower sections of the building greenhorn to show lack of experience among the builder. Additionally, Pieter paints the sky blue to bring a quality of cool openness and expansiveness. Painting the skies light blue denotes the steady character and wisdom of God. The entire tower is painted brown. This is the color of the earth and of living wood. Subtle, extraordinary, and rich to look upon, this color creates a mood of warmth and coolness simultaneously (Childress, 2008). It is dependable, steady, conservative, and conscientious in representing building color since it denotes that construction materials are derived from the earth. A slight yellow tinge was used alongside greenhorn. The mixture of the two colors in this painting denotes ‘light-heartedness’ and ‘childishness’ among the builders. This can be explained by the fact that the builders thought they could reach the heavens by constructing a tall tower.

Why Tower of Babel?

This painting marked a new beginning of scientific painting through employing the feature of ‘movement’. Pieter wanted to make the audience curious about the nature of the picture. For instance, the picture preserved at Rotterdam seemingly experiences some unsteady rotation. Fascination of Pieter with movements in paintings led him to indulge in painting falling figures. For example, in 1568, his painting, The Parable of the Blind, employed the elements of pictorial movement (Bonn, 2006). This is a style has been advanced with time, and has resulted to today’s seemingly ‘mobile’ paintings. Additionally, this painting has a religious character. Pieter’s allegorical paintings represent doctrines of Christian faith found in the Bible. From this, this painting has a direct connection with the issues of the world today. Religion and religious beliefs are slowly corroding the values of humanity. As a result, this painting has clear lesson of tolerances on basis of ethnicity and language. This painting reminds the audience on the true nature of God. It reveals that He is all-powerful and will always take his place. Above all, this tower, elevated by stones, is unique since it supports individuality, an element of collaborative autonomy (Michel & Charles, 2012). It symbolizes how individual collaborative autonomy results to collaborative intelligence. Collaborative intelligence depends on the situational architecture, which provides self-sustaining contexts. Speaking one language represents conformity and a way binding all people together for the common good. The overall message of the picture is that unity overcomes all barriers.

References

Bonn, R.L. (2006). Painting Life: The Art of Pieter Bruegel, the Elder. New York: Richard Altschuler & Associates, Inc.

Childress, D.C. (2008). The Power of Color: Shades and Meanings. Miami: ProQuest LLC.

Michel, E., & Charles, V. (2012). Pieter Bruegel the Elder. New York: Parkstone International Press.

Silver, L. (2006). Peasant Scenes and Landscapes: The Rise of Pictorial Genres in the Antwerp Era. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.

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