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History of Art: Patinir and Cole

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Art has always been a reflection of life. Musicians, painters, sculptors: all these artists are willing to convey their perception of the reality to the others through their works. As all people are different and see the world that surrounds them from different angles, paintings become a distorting mirror sometimes. This mirror makes people see the reality as better or worse than it actually is. In her novel “Wuthering Heights”, Emily Bronte used the image of the creepy moors in foggy England to represent the wildness of the main character. She managed to convey emotions through the description of the moody landscape. In fact, a lot of painters turn to the images of nature trying to show what is inside.

Joachim Patinir is one of these artists. He once learned that painting nature in all its gorgeousness is the best way to explore the inside by using the beauty of the outside. Joachim Patinir is a Belgium landscape painter from the period of Renaissance at the end of 15th – the beginning of 16th centuries. He is famous for creating splendid panoramas with an incredible degree of strictness and precision.

One of the Patinir’s most recognizable works is “Landscape with Saint Jerome” painted in 1524. At first glance, this canvas seems to be painted mostly using the dark and cold palette. The artist used different shades of green color, grey, brown, blue and dark blue to create a somber ambiance. It gives the viewer a strong impression of the magnitude of this painting; it also evokes the desire to learn more about the characters in it. Another work makes the viewer feel something similar. It is “The Cascatelli, Tivoli, Looking Towards Rome” made by Thomas Cole around 1532. It is also a sample of the landscape painting art. Its author is an American artist, who is considered a founder of the art movement called Hudson River School.

These two paintings have a lot of similarities. The common feature of both masters, Joachim Patinir, and Thomas Cole, is a very strict and close attention to details. Considering the scale of the works, it is safe to say that all the details on the canvas of both painters are carefully depicted. At the very first seconds of the contemplation of “Landscape with Saint Jerome” the audience sees obscure and murky rocks and a very dark part of the sky in the top left corner. However, after the first impression leaves the place for curiosity, one can start looking for the story in this painting. It can be surprising, but there are several scenes in it. In the foreground, we can see Saint Jerome with a lion sitting next to him in some kind of a cave. This fact makes one think that it is a reminiscence of the legend of Saint Jerome. The legend says that Jerome met the fierce animal on his way. He noticed that the lion had difficulty stepping on the paw. The man realized that it was a thorn that had pierced the lion’s paw and made the animal suffer. Despite the fear, Saint Jerome removed it. After that the savage animal, thankful for the help, became a guardian of the monastery where his savior lived.

Near Saint Jerome we can see a crucifix which, to my mind, can symbolize the faith in general and Jerome’s trust in the good. There are also several secondary situations on this canvas. In the bottom right-hand corner we can see an old man with a stick; he is walking with a little boy. The figures are small, but even then you can catch the character of this scene. These two characters are very distinct. The old man seems to be concerned about something and he is hurrying the little boy; maybe he is scared of something. Above this scene there is another lion attacking a defenseless villager riding a donkey. This episode symbolizes that even though there are always two sides of everyone and everything, the nature instincts will always be stronger. The struggle for life does not stop. At the top of the mountain on the left we can see a church and several pathways to it. It is an allusion that everyone should find their own way in faith. Above, in the left corner, we see huge rocks. They make me feel danger. On the right the painter put a small village and a bizarre squared pond. In the top right-hand corner there is more water – there is the sea. Both big and small water bodies will find their swimmers. Life is not similar for different people.

Cole’s “The Cascatelli, Tivoli, Looking Towards Rome” also shows a large perspective. However, in contrast to “Landscape with Saint Jerome”, the colors are mostly brown. The painter used different shades of this color, also sand shade, hazel and beige and black. The picture seems gloomy. It is a view towards Rome from Tivoli. Unlike the first painting discussed, the geographical location is defined. Cole portrayed the water streams, referring to famous Roman viaducts. He depicted the buildings, the river in the valley, and two figures in the bottom right-hand corner in detail. The artist makes the viewer wonder who they are, what they are doing there and why they are in the painting in general. Due to the selected colors for this work, we can suggest that Cole painted the morning time. It seems like the sun is rising.

Although Cole and Patinir were about three centuries apart and divided by the ocean geographically, they both had used similar tools and sources to express themselves. Being the representatives of different periods and art movements, they both became famous due to their talent of powerful landscape painting.

Painting the landscapes always gives the artist a great palette of possibilities to transmit the idea by putting it on the canvas. Nature is rich in emotions and moods. It has everything that a painter needs in order to convey the depth of his idea.

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