Gerard David was born in the town of Oudewater, Netherlands in 1460. Little is known of his early life but he began to make a name for himself once he joined the Guild. After a few years in 1494 he was known as the head painter and a master in his field. Most of his works contain religious figures and are extremely realistic. Davidr’s primary influences were Jan Van Eycks, Rogier van der Weyden, Hugo van der Goes and perhaps also Albert van Oudewater and Hans Memling. (Total History). What made Gerard David stand out as an artist came from his own talent as a colorist. He uses rich and vivid colors in his garments with great detail and blending. He was also an illustrator of manuscripts which was a talent high in demand during his life time. He did not leave a legacy but proved to have mastered the techniques of creating illusion, the human figure, color, oil painting, use of perspective, and space in early and high renaissance throughout his paintings.
4) We find realism in this painting by the setting in which the holy family is at and where Mary takes a rest to feed baby Jesus, simply on a rock. Her fingers and other bodily features are proportionate with each other and Jesus is proportionate in size relative to her as well. The lines in which he draws their bodies are barely seen due to his overlaying of color and addition of mass and volume to their bodies to make the figures look solid. Her clothing stands out from soft colors Gerard uses in the landscape drawing the viewers attention to what is important in the painting; Mary breastfeeding Jesus. She wears a shiny navy-blue garment with a bright red one underneath and he uses chiaroscuro for volume to following the bends and curves of her body.
Her coat is a much darker color yet we can still tell the texture is smooth and silky at the touch by the shine David adds. Gerard also uses perspective to show they are long ways from the town and how far she traveled from the exit of the woods to her rest stop. This painting is not representing the family at a specific time, but at two different times by drawing Mary on the donkey holding Jesus and Joseph walking beside as they exit the forest. The figures do not have sharp and defining lines instead he faded them a little to look unfocused, this represents them in the past and the solid more detail figures to be the present. We find some symbolism and foreshadowing with the broad-leaf plantain Gerard chose to place at Maryr’s feet and around her.
This plant was used medicinally to stop a wound from bleeding, foreshadowing the suffering this mother and child will face. There are two things that stand out as not realistic in this painting and they are the transparent clothing Jesus wears, which matches the veil on Maryr’s head, and his posture. He sits up straight looking at the viewer while drinking milk instead of laying down and looking at his mother like a normal baby his age would. This gives me the impression that this baby is much wiser than any other one and that he knows something we dont know, maybe his own destiny.
This painting is a narrative of the long travels the holy family made with not much in their possession. The painting is historical because it tells a story of Jesusr’s early life. It also tells you Joseph and Maryr’s wealth status, they owned a donkey which at that time was a normal means of transportation for those that come from a small town. They had to pack light because of it and meant they left a lot behind to travel to Egypt. This artwork leaves behind the importance religious themes had on the daily lives of people during this time and the artists as well.
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