Hercules and Omphale and Madonna and Child

Herculesand Omphaleand Madonnaand Child

Thetwo paintings present a myriad of interesting differences dependingon the artists involved and how people understand them. However,different paintings present different designs and elements of art.The discussion will critique Herculesand Omphaleand TheMadonna and Childpaintings by highlighting the important elements of art, principlesof design and explore the subject matter. In addition, the discussionwill compare the two paintings and highlight key art elements thatare common in both paintings.

CritiquingGiotto’s, Madonna and Child

Thispainting was created by Florentine Giotto around c. 1265 – 1337 inItaly, which means that this painting was part of Italian Renaissancethat was taking place in early 14thcentury. The painting utilizes the tempera on poplar panel as themain medium used during painting. Madonnaand Childpainting measures about 85.4 x 61.8 centimeters in length with thesubject matter fully utilizing the space (National Gallery 1). In thebackground, Giotto has utilized a more conservative style popularduring that period known as Byzantane in gold color.

(Madonna and Child)

Inthis painting, Giotto utilized the Byzantine style. This style wasuncommon practice by many artists during painting (Freedman 281).This style normally has little involvement with the audience in termsof emotions. Madonnaand Childpainting evokes religious feelings to the audience. The Byzantaniestyle that is adopted in the background of the painting has religiousrepresentation. This style has also been utilized in the subjectmatter depicted in the painting. For instance, the subject matterdepicted in the painting is two dimensional and seem to be stiffhence evoking little emotions to the audience.

The first predominant element of art effectively utilized by Giottois space. The subject matter which is the Madonnaand Childis painted in well defined space that appears to be real (Freedman281). This technique was seen different from other artists duringthat period and hence, it set the painting apart from the rest. Themother who is assumed to be Mary is sitting in a well designed thronelike chair which the artist wanted to communicate to the audience.The manner through which space has been utilized by Giotto createsfeelings of real environment to audiences’ minds.

Lineshave been utilized by Giotto alongside the bright colors. It isimportant to note that he adopted bright, vibrant and mostly primarycolors to as to attract the attention of the viewers. Lines aremostly painted alongside the colors in the garments worn by thesubject matter and in this case, they outline the volumes of theirbodies (Freedman 282). This helps the audience to realize that thefigures presented in the painting are in real life human form.

Thepainting is composed of figures of Mary and Jesus who seems to beloosely covered by a cloak. Depth has been used by Giotto to obscurepartly the body of Mary or partially blocking the attention of theaudience (Freedman 282). He has been able to create movement by thecareful technique applied especially in the cloak covering Jesus thatseems to be folding in legs. This in essence helps the audience toget the real interpretation of the Madonnaand Childpainting. The painting effectively demonstrates devotion and piety asfar as religion was concerned. This painting demonstrates Mary’swarmth at the same time displaying her heavenly position.

CritiquingHerculesand Omphalepainting

Thepainting is titled Herculesand Omphale andwas painted in the period 1700 – 1710. This painting was created byan Italian artist called Luigi Garzi and it belonged to the Italianculture. The medium of creation is oil on canvas that was the mainmedium used during that period. It measures about 97.8 x 134.6centimeters in length and it able to display the subject matter infull (Getty museum 1)

(TheJ. Paul Getty Museum)

Coloris one of the most predominant elements of art used by Garzi inbringing out the overall pleasure scene. For instance, he hasemployed very light brown color in painting the almost nude body ofOmphale. This has brought strong sensibility and serenity effect tothe audience when viewing her body (Freedman 263).

Thesame color has been employed to other four women in the painting buttheir bodies are mostly covered by clothing. In addition, thechildren bearing wings have been painted with the same light coloreffect to bring about a sense of divinity or victory. On the otherhand, Garzi has employed dark brown color to paint the almost-nudebody of Hercules. The color brings the effects of masculinity andstrength that the artist wanted to emphasize (Freedman 263).

Linesas an element of art have been effectively used in this painting tocreate an overall effect of depth (Fleming &amp Honour 112). TheHercules and Omphalepainting bears black vertical coloring to emphasize the depth of thepolls in the building. The vertical black lines are also visible inthe background of the painting, particularly in the trees. Thisbrings out the same effect of depth and the green color that bringsout the effect of productivity of the land.

Whiteand brown colors have been employed in the floor where the subjectsare depicted. These colors are painted in horizontal lines to bring arelaxing and order quality to the entire painting. Red color was oneof the most popular colors used by artists during that period. Forinstance, in this painting, the red color has been used by the artistto bring out the effect of love or romance and hence intimate(Fleming &amp Honour 112). Generally, Garzi has combined all colorsto successfully create a warm natural feeling and hence attract theaudience to the painting.

Spaceis another element of art that has been successfully employed byGarzi in Herculesand Omphalepainting. This is an important element that helps the artistcommunicate his ideas or intentions to the audience. At the centre ofthe painting there is seems to be visual activities such as Herculesplaying music, a maiden intensively listening to the music, a childplaying with a dog and Omphale speaking to other women. The arms ofOmphale for instance provide the audience with visual movements aswell as those of Hercules. Space has been effectively utilized inthis painting to bring about a continuous joyous yet sensuous effectto the general audience (Freedman 264).

Theinterpretation of the subject matter of the painting lies behind anancient myth about the story of Herculesand Omphalewho was the Queen of Lydia. Hercules accepted to be a slave ofOmphale as a way of expiating his actions of killing one of hisfriends. This was after consulting with oracle of Apollo, who advisedhim to do so.

Despitethe fact that he was a strong man, he submitted to the simple tasksassigned to him by the queen. This is the reason that he is depictedin the painting, playing music to the queen as she sits wearinglion’s skin loosely. However, as time went by, the queen fell inlove with him because of his physical beauty as well as his strength.They began having intimate relationships that eventually led tomarriage having three sons as a result (Freedman 266).

Comparisonof the two paintings

Incomparison to TheMadonna and Childpainting, the Herculesand Omphalepainting evokes strong sexual emotions to the audience. Herculesand Omphale paintinghas nudity that is demonstrated by the subject matter of Hercules andOmphale in contrast to the fully dressed figures represented in theMadonna and Child painting. The main reason why these artists choseto depict their subjects differently was because of the varyingthemes communicated through their subject matters. TheMadonna and Childpainting solely communicates religious theme while the Hercules andOmphale painting communicates power, love and romance.

Thesepaintings have utilized bright and vibrant colors through theirsubject matter depicted, perhaps to catch the audience attention.These lively colors are meant to create a feeling of naturalism tothe painting in an attempt to evoking reality. Colors have been usedto emphasize specific themes intended by the artist. For instance, inthe Herculesand Omphalepainting, Garzi utilized the red and brown color to highlight thetheme of desire and romance. On the other hand, Giotto has utilizedless of red and combined it with other colors such as green and brownto bring natural quality to the painting while at the same time,using small amounts of gold to emphasize the ethereal light in thesubject matters.


FreedmanL. ClassicalMyths in Italian Renaissance Paintings.Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. 2011. Print.

FlemingJ., Honour H. Aworld History of Art.New York. Cengage Publishing. 2005. Print.

Madonnaand Child.Retrieved from Class Lecture Presentation. Date Accessed. July 30,2016

Herculesand Omphale.Picture taken from, The J. Paul Getty Museum, July 29, 2016