A Variety of Topics All Regards to Two Specific Pieces of Art: Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi’s, Annunciation

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In this essay I will be discussing a variety of topics all regards to two specific pieces of art. The two pieces of art I will be writing about were created by two different artists. The first painting is named Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi’s, Annunciation, this piece was created by an Italian artist; the next painting is called Jean Pucelle’s, The Kiss od Judas and the Annunciation which was created by a French artist. Both works of art were created roughly about the same time. In this essay I will describe how both painting portray the similar subject matter both created around the same era. In addition, I will compare the different ways the two artists have rendered their scenes and what is the expressive effect of each. I will describe with great detail how the artist uses textures, colors, and figures to make you imagine what the mood is like in the picture.

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Next, I will answer the question, “does the fact that one is an altarpiece and the other is from a private devotional influence the way the artists depict the story”?

Let’s start with discussing the formal examination of the two pieces of art; formal examination is one of the fundamental building blocks of art historical writing. It has two principal components; the complete description of an artwork’s formal components, such as the paintings size, material, line, color, tone, and composition which I will be pointing out in this essay. The next component I will discuss is my well-reasoned claim about how these elements come together to produce a visual or symbolic effect.

The first painting I would like to talk about is the Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi’s, Annunciation; this painting was made for Siena Cathedral in 1333. The artists’ used tempera with gold leafing on wood with lacquer, the painting stands 10’ x 8’9” tall. It is displayed in the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. The painting was located in the cathedral until 1799, when Grand Duke Peter Leopold had it relocated to Florence in exchange of two canvasses by Luca Giordano. The original frame, carved by Paolo di Camporegio and gilt by Memmi, was renovated in 1420 and exchanged by a modern one in the 19th century (Wikipedia).

This work is composed of three sections, a large center panel that most of the focus is intended on with an angel and the Virgin Mary and two side panels with women in each. The women possibly could be saints. This painting initially decorated the altar of St. Ansanus in the Cathedral of Siena, and had been custom-made as part of a cycle of four altarpieces devoted to the city's patrons saints during 1330-1350. This painting is intended to represent the story of the Life of the Madonna (Wikipedia). The date of this painting is detailed in a very small fragment of the original frame, now the date is embedded in the 19th-century renovation. In the small fragment it lists the name of Simone Martini and his brother-in-law Lippo Memmi, although it is not clear which parts they executed (Wikipedia). This piece is very unique; I’ve never seen a piece of act like this. I really appreciate how the artists uses the color gold through almost the entire picture. The gold makes the picture feel more expensive or royalty like. Another interesting thing to think about is who exactly painted what on this work because in fact two painters created this work.

Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi’s, Annunciation shows the archangel Gabriel entering the house of the Virgin Mary to tell her that she will soon birth the child Jesus (Wikipedia). On a side note an interesting fact is the name Jesus which means savior. The angel is holding a branch of some sort; I believe this is some type of offering or a gift to the Virgin Mary. In addition there is a lot of religious related items like the crosses, high back chairs, lavish looking gowns, this scene looks to be in a place like a church or religious structure. The Virgin Mary looks like she is not impressed by the offers the angel is giving her; maybe she doesn’t want the gifts or is offended by them.

On both sides of the picture you can see a women; each are holding a feather, which looks to be a writing utensil, and in the other hand they both are hold a religious piece. The image is entirely covered with the color gold; you can also see birds, plants, and lots of intricate columns that look very expensive.

The work Kiss of Judas and the Annunciation by Jean Pucelle was created in Paris between 1324 and 1328. It was sold in 1954 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city where it is held at The Cloisters and typically on display at all times (Wikipedia). This work of art is made in a very minimalist way; the book is decorated in really only a few colors, red, blue, and black. This book is very small in size; the size of each page is 3-5/8" × 2-7/16", and the overall size including the current replacement binding is 3 7/8 x 2 13/16 x 1 1/2 in. There are 209 pages, with 25 full page miniatures, but many other historiated initials and images in the borders of most pages, so that over 700 illustrations have been counted. Only ten pages have no images, just plain text, suggesting that the book was never finished (Wikipedia). In this picture you can see the angel entering the structure and passing the Virgin Mary a note of some sort; the way this picture presents is that the note is of the greatest importance. The Virgin Mary has a halo on her head that is a glowing red color that makes her stand out from the others. Another similarity is that this image has many religious factors, for example the image has lots of angels and a high ceiling structure that resembles a church. In addition I notice something that is very unique in this image when comparing it to Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi’s, Annunciation; this piece had a three dimensional feel to it. If you look at the structure that the Virgin Mary is in it looks like it has depth to it. You really don’t see this in paintings around this era. There are many unique characteristics that make both of these pieces of art similar; in many ways you can see the same story between the two pictures.

Lastly, does the fact that one is an altarpiece and the other is from a private devotional influence the way the artists depict the story? I would have to say yes because an altar piece is designed to viewed by many people at one time; think of how many people attend church on Sundays. I believe being around others can influence people to think a certain way. The work Kiss of Judas and the Annunciation is simply a book, typically books are read or viewed by one person at a time, I think this would entice individuals to opinionate organically without prejudice.

In Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi’s, Annunciation and the Kiss of Judas and the Annunciation by Jean Pucelle the artists express talent, uniqueness and creativity in these paintings. One artist chose to make a huge piece almost like a billboard type piece of art and the other created a book where a person can view a variety of images and stories. If you think about what art history means you can agree that art history is creations made by different people from all over the world; you can truly see a story with all pieces of art ranging from the artists personal story or the story of the characters in the image. Art can be constructed from all sorts of things, ranging from the monumental to small scale, but has time goes on we can learn about artists' lives and their societies by their work, this is a quality that all art possesses.

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