Renaissance / Baroque Comparative Analysis Term Paper

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The compositional structure here is actually quite daring. Even though a viewer tends to "read" a painting left-to-right, as with a book, here the left side of the canvas seems to fade away into nothingness. It is not just the empty seascape on the left as compared with the dark richness of the forest on the right. The left half of the painting contains the subject of the painting after all -- Europa and the Bull. It is Rembrandt's genius to have the drama of Europa and the Bull taking place in the lower left corner of a very large painting, almost as though the moment of drama is on its way out, and the viewer is lucky to have
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caught it. But it is also clever how Rembrandt essentially balances the canvas with two central subjects, equally illuminated from above -- we have Europa and the Bull on the left, but we have the grieving women left behind, who almost seem more central to the painting than Europa does. But of course these women are -- because they occupy the same position as we the viewers do. Europa and the Bull are on the move, and they will be out of sight in about 2 seconds. Once they are gone, only the women -- trapped on shore -- will remain. This is like the viewer of art who is left with a lasting emotional reaction to what has been seen, even after it is no longer…

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