The Power Of Vanity Essay example

Submitted By zhenley
Words: 1622
Pages: 7

The Power of Vanity as Seen in Art Throughout history, art has been based largely around human appearance and attribute. This strong correlation is displayed in works of art from nearly every culture that has ever existed. Being Human, we naturally possess a sense of vanity, some more than others. The reason for this is that having a sense of self-pride and self-importance results in inspiration and admiration for one’s self. In truth, vanity is a powerful force. In the past, ancient rulers created magnificent monuments, which symbolized their power through wealth and dominion. Today, people idealize themselves in many forms. We take pride in our appearance, achievements, social status, wealth, and character. This is true for people of the past as well. The following five works of art are from the textbook “Art: A Brief History”. I believe that they symbolically represent the power of vanity in life. Caterina van Hemessen’s, Self-Portrait (Fig. 13-37, pg. 363) is an ordinary example showcasing vanity in a painting. Caterina van Hemessen was female artist who lived during the 1500s. She was famously known for her work as a portraitist. This painting in particular shows Hemessen’s own perception of herself. In the image, she is seen in a tight black turtleneck dress that extends into a large quilted bottom. Underneath her dress she is a wearing a thick-sleeved red top, which ripples along the bend of her elbows. Her dress peaks into a red and white plaid collar. She adorns a sheer bonnet on top of her head that conceals her hair. The complexion of her face is pale and she seems to be staring at the viewer while she paints a portrait of someone else. In her left hand she holds a painting pallet dabbed with various colors and multiple paintbrushes of different sizes. She rests her right hand upon her mahlstick, which is a used to steady one’s hand while painting. There is seemingly nothing in her surrounding environment, just empty darkness. When viewing the essence of this painting it is clear that it is simply the artist’s view of herself. She conveys a sense of self-pride in her image and in her work as an artist. By doing so, her vanity becomes evident and entwined within her work of art. Diego Velazquez’s, Las Meninas (Fig. 14-15, pg. 381) is one of the most complex portraits in the textbook. Diego Velazquez was a Spanish painter during the seventeenth century. He was well respected by Spanish nobility during his life and painted many works of art for Spain’s royalty, which later resulted in Velazquez being knighted by the King. This painting was originally commissioned by King Philip of Spain to be a portrait of him and his wife, but their appearance is very subtle in the image. Instead of being shown as upfront and personal, the King and Queen are viewed as a reflection off a mirror that hangs from the wall in the center background. However, it was painted this way to show that the King and Queen are actually the center of attention among those in the image and we, the viewers, are seeing from the King and Queen’s perspective. In the upfront center of the painting their young daughter, Margarita, is portrayed standing and facing her parents with her attendants cradled around her. She is wearing a beautiful white dress with a wide blooming bottom while her chest and arms burst with colors of red and blue. Her light blonde hair is parted on both sides and flows slightly past her shoulders. Nestled in the right side of her hair is what seems to be a small flower bouquet. Not only is this painting a portrait of the King and Queen as well as their daughter, but Velazquez also decided to add himself into the image as if he were painting the King and Queen’s portrait in their portrait. He is holding a paint pallet in his left hand and a paintbrush in his right; dressed in a black turtleneck suit with poufy shiny metallic sleeves. Stitched onto his chest is a red Spanish cross, symbolizing his knighthood. Las Meninas,