Two of the greatest artists of all time, Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo are very much noted as the masters of the two greatest qualities of craft (concerning the composition of the artwork) and communication (the uniqueness of the artist’s message and vision). The significant factor that strikes a person when appreciating the works of these celebrated artists in comparative analysis is that they were masters in craft and communication in their own specific ways. A comparative account of the specific techniques such as composition, color, perspective, chiaroscuro, idealism, gesture, size, symbolism, allegory, etc of these artists would illustrate this point very evidently. In this paper, such an endeavor is carried out by comparing and contrasting The Entombment by Michelangelo and The Last Supper by Da Vinci.
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As the first step, let us consider the work of the entombment by Michelangelo. The work shows the characteristic features of Michelangelo paintings and there are no disputes over its authenticity. The work is oil on wood – 161.7 x 149.9 cm. The composition of the work reconciled two formats, the Man of Sorrows and the Meleager narrative. The painting provides a very picturesque view of Christ’s body being carried to his tomb. Male nudity and muscular tension have been portrayed by Angelo as he considered it as the foremost subject in art. He provided multiple layers of meaning to his works as his works dealt with mythology, religion, and other subjects.
Many of his works are left unfinished but the alluring charm of his works is incomparable. The Last Supper by Do Vinci has a huge size of 460×880 c.m and uses tempera and mixed media on plaster. The painting depicts the moment after Jesus told his disciples that one of them would betray him. Leonardo groups the apostles into four groups of three, with Jesus in the middle, capturing the central attention of the viewer. The painting is done on a dry surface, rather than on wet plaster.
There is a considerable amount of difference in the material, subject matter, use of color, and thematic representation between the two. Leonardo Do Vinci employed more dark colors in his paintings whereas Michelangelo preferred light colors for his art. Most of the paintings of Do Vinci are made on dry plaster; for Michael oil painting on wood was more of a fascination. Both Angelo’s and Leonardo’s paintings assume three-dimensional appreciations: Leonardo made use of light and shadow (chiaroscuro) to bring out this three-dimensional effect which made his paintings soft as well as life-like. A recurrent theme with Michael Angelo’s paintings is life and death.
Angelo very often makes use of devotional images in his paintings and tried to link the renaissance techniques with the archaic ones: “On the one hand, Michelangelo sought to restore the devotional image, strengthening its hold on a new cut of the viewer; on the other, he aimed to sanctify the modern aesthetic, linking Renaissance techniques hack into archaic types.” (Cole, 2003). Unlike Angelo, Leonardo had a more universal and realistic approach: “Leonardo nevertheless sought a universal language in painting. With perspective and other realistic elements, Leonardo tried to create faithful renditions of life. Leonardo’s desire to paint things realistically was bold and fresh.” (Museum of Science, n.d.).
The realistic works of Leonardo are the results of his study on nature and anatomy. However, he never painted ludicrously muscular bodies as Michelangelo. Thus, a comparative and contrastive study on the paintings of these two great artists convinces one that both of them displayed great insight, originality, and creativity in their works that researchers and art lovers all over the world seek the mystery behind their works even today.
Cole, Michael. (2003). Michelangelo and the Reform of Art & Painting in Renaissance Florence, 1500-1550. HighBeam encyclopedia. Web.
Museum of Science. (n.d.). Renaissance Man. Scientist Inventor Artist. Web.