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Norton Simon Museum Exhibition Essay


Madonna and Child with Book, created by Raphael in 1502-1503, is an excellent example of a Renaissance style painting. It features all the critical visual characteristics of the period, including harmony of color and shape, grace, and nobility (“Madonna and Child with Book”). The painting depicts Madonna and the Christ Child reading a volume of daily devotions. Both Madonna and the Child are holding the book in their hands, which emphasizes their connection to religion and spirituality. However, instead of reading, they are looking at one another, as if acknowledging the future of Christ (Norton Simon Museum). Rafael was only 18 or 19 years old when he created the piece, yet it possesses all the distinctive characteristics of his style, such as rich colors, calm images of nature in the background, and stability. Although the picture is not symmetrical, the robes of Madonna are arranged in a way that creates a flowing and balanced appearance. The picture thus translates the same calmness and harmony that is often part of artworks depicting Madonna and the Child. Overall, this painting is a vivid example of early Raphael’s work and the Renaissance style.

Rubens’ Meleager and Atalanta and the Hunt of the Calydonian Boar is among the highlights of the museum’s collection of European paintings. Created in 1618-1619, this oil on panel piece depicts an Ancient Roman narrative about the hunt on a ferocious boar, sent by goddess Diana (“Meleager and Atalanta and the Hunt of the Calydonian Boar”). In this oil sketch, Atlanta shoots an arrow at the boar while the rest of the hunters trap the creature with weapons and hunting dogs, preventing it from escaping. One of the most significant features of the work is the “sense of immediacy”, achieved through the use of rapid brush strokes (“Meleager and Atalanta and the Hunt of the Calydonian Boar”). This technique also allowed the artist to recreate the chaotic movement of different characters within the painting. Although the attention of all figures is directed at the boar, there is no sense of unity in their efforts. The style and subject of the work relate to the Renaissance period, which was mainly characterized by the exploration of the classical Antiquity, including Greek and Roman narratives.

The Birth of St. John the Baptist is a painting by a Spanish artist Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo, who became famous for his naturalistic and engaging portrayal of Biblical narratives and events (“The Birth of St. John the Baptist”). Indeed, the image of John the Baptist taking his first bath, surrounded by midwives and parents, seems more casual and natural than spiritual. The only details of the painting that reminds the audience of the story behind the piece are the figures of three angels, overlooking the scene from above. There is no tension in the scene. The gestures of characters and their figures seem natural and relaxed, worry and anxiety vanished from their faces after John’s birth. The cleansing of a newborn was a familiar ritual in the context in which the work was created. However, many scholars also claim that the image alludes to John’s future role as the man who baptized Christ (“The Birth of St. John the Baptist”). The visual features of the work are reminiscent of the Baroque style, with dark colors and the centricity of the composition.

Works Cited

Norton Simon Museum, n.d., Web.

Norton Simon Museum, n.d., Web.

Norton Simon Museum, n.d., Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, October 10). Norton Simon Museum Exhibition. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/norton-simon-museum-exhibition/

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"Norton Simon Museum Exhibition." IvyPanda, 10 Oct. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/norton-simon-museum-exhibition/.

1. IvyPanda. "Norton Simon Museum Exhibition." October 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/norton-simon-museum-exhibition/.


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IvyPanda. "Norton Simon Museum Exhibition." October 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/norton-simon-museum-exhibition/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Norton Simon Museum Exhibition." October 10, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/norton-simon-museum-exhibition/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Norton Simon Museum Exhibition'. 10 October.

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