Cigoli’s Adoration of the Shepherds and Moretto da Brescia’s Entombmen
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Man has been creating art for over 30,000 years. There are cave drawings, sculptures, Egyptian art, Greek Art, Modern Art and plenty more but to many, the Renaissance Art period is considered to be most important. Never had so many geniuses in art lived at one time and never had so many pieces of cherished art been produced. Two examples of Renaissance paintings are Cigoli’s Adoration of the Shepherds and Moretto da Brescia’s Entombment. Both paintings posses the attributes that were popular during the Renaissance period which I will now contrast and compare.
Both paintings focus on the life of Jesus, but at different times in his life. The Adoration of the Shepherds shows us Christ soon after being born. Cigoli chose to depict when the shepherds arrived to give praise to Christ after following the star of Bethelham. Moretto decided to pick a time much later in the bible when Christ was about to be buried after being taken down from the cross and brought to the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. Both paintings tell their respective stories more clearly by visualizing as much as possible. In Entombment for example, Cigoli displayed Joseph and Nicodemus holding a crown of thorns and nails in order to help us understand that this scene takes place directly after they took Christ down from the cross. In the Adoration of the Shepherds, Cigoli probably painted the star above so people would assume it is the star of Bethelham which the shepherds followed to see Christ which is what the scene is about. This style is very appropriate for the time because organizations like the Council of Trent wanted people to understand the subject of the paintings without having to think much about it.
Both artists composed the figures in different styles. Adoration of the Shepherds is a baroque moment while Entombment is a static composition. In the Adoration of the Shepherds, Mary seems to have just unveiled Jesus and people can be seen still filing into the manger and some of the shepherds struggle to get a glimpse. You can feel that it is the beginning of a long night. People are not positioned just for this picture. They are all in action. In Entombment, all the figures are posed around Christ and are not in any action except for Mary who has to hold Christ. The characters seem to display themselves in positions specifically for us to see. Cigoli’s baroque style adds a greater ...
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...ismiss the whole scene as imaginary. In Entombment, Moretto painted with the idea in mind that everything must be realistic so that the viewer will believe that this event actually happened.
Both artists also displayed messages in their paintings. The angels in Adoration of the Shepherds and hold a banner that says “Gloria In Excelsis Deo.” The slab of the tomb in Entombment reads (in the English translation) “Philippians 2.8 (He… became obedient even unto death.)” I would think these messages were added so the messages of the paintings would even be clearer.
In conclusion, both artists successfully expressed the message that they were trying to send but through different stylistic elements. Moretto gave us a sense of guilt towards what happened to Christ and it makes you feel like you should be in church right now. For Adoration of the Shepherds, Cigoli was able to show us a light hearted celebration and a new beginning through the colors and commotion of the people. These paintings help show us that there is more to painting a masterpiece than just having idea. Many elements must be considered to express true feelings.