On April 11, 2016, I visited the Chrysler Museum of Art located in Norfolk, Virginia. This establishment is one of the most famous museums in Virginia, and, in fact, is known far beyond the state for its major collection of works of art.
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I visited the museum on my own; a number of other visitors also were present in the establishment. I simply spent a few hours in the museum observing the exhibits. The collection impressed me with its richness and the beauty of most of the pieces. In this paper, I will describe two pieces of art that especially drew my attention.
“The Declaration of Independence” by Edward Hicks
One of the pieces of art that attracted my attention in the museum is the oil on canvas painting by Edward Hicks entitled “The Declaration of Independence”; the painting was created circa 1840. It depicts the Second Continental Congress meeting where the American Declaration of Independence was signed. The painting shows the scene in which Thomas Jefferson holds the Declaration that is to be signed. Jefferson has red hair and is wearing a red vest and a blue jacket; he stands out from the rest of the people, being the only person in red. Benjamin Franklin stands near him, on his left.
The meeting took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776. It was a crucial event that changed American history; it was the final response of the thirteen British colonies located in America to the “tyrannical behavior of the British king” (Sayre, 2014, p. 846). The colonies declared themselves to be independent states and formed a new nation, the United States of America. The chief drafter of the Declaration itself was Thomas Jefferson; it is stated that the document is “one of the Enlightenment’s boldest assertions of freedom” (Sayre, 2014, p. 846).
“Orestes Pursued by the Furies” by Adolphe-William Bouguereau
Another painting that drew my attention is “Orestes Pursued by the Furies,” which was created by Adolphe-William Bouguereau in 1862 (oil on canvas). The picture stands out from others by the verisimilitude of the facial expressions of the depicted individuals. The painting shows one nude man whose expression is that of pain and fear; and four women, three of whom are pursuing the man, have snakes in their hair and furious facial expressions; one of these women is supporting another woman, who has a knife in her chest and is falling back.
The man in the painting is Orestes, a character from Ancient Greek mythology. According to the myths, Orestes was the son of Agamemnon, the king of Argos; Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter to the gods in order to ensure that the weather during the sail to Troy will be good. The king’s wife and Orestes’ mother, Clytemnestra, killed Agamemnon together with Aegisthus, her lover, in order to avenge the death of her daughter, and Orestes then murdered his mother to take revenge for his father. Because of this act, Orestes was tormented by the Erinyes, also known as the Furies, the divine creatures that personify vengeance in Greek mythology (“Orestes,” n.d.).
To sum up, it should be stressed that the collection of works of art in the Chrysler Museum of Art is vast and rich. Numerous pieces attracted my attention, but the two paintings, “The Declaration of Independence” by Edward Hicks and “Orestes Pursued by the Furies” by Adolphe-William Bouguereau were the works that I remembered the most – one because of the significance of the event it depicts, the other thanks to its beauty and to the verisimilitude of the people present in the picture.
Orestes. (n.d.). Web.
Sayre, H. M. (2014). The humanities: Culture, continuity & change. Volume II: 1600 to the present (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.