Friday, June 08, 2007

07/08 Academic Decathlon Art Selection #10

Watson and the Shark
John Singleton Copely
1778, Oil on canvas
72 X 90 1/4"
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Woah - this is a dramatic scene captured on the canvas! What is the
story behind this painting? Not an AcDec image, but the Raft of the Medusa by Gericault has a lot of
similarities. What is the story behind THAT painting? How are they alike? How are they different? Why were these paintings made?


Kristine Gonzales said... my OPINION...The Medusa (original French name: La Méduse) was a French frigate that gained notoriety when it struck the Bank of Arguin off the coast of Senegal in 1816, resulting in the catastrophic evacuation of its company, and one of the most infamous shipwrecks of the Age of Sail.

The incident, which led to the demise of 140 crew and passengers, was popularized throughout Europe by account of survivors and led to a scandal in the French government because of the incompetence of the ship's captain and the feeble rescue effort. It was later the subject of several notable paintings, the most famous of which is Théodore Géricault's The Raft of the Medusa, which hangs in the Louvre.
Impressed by accounts of the shipwreck, the 25-year-old artist Théodore Géricault decided to make a painting based on the incident and contacted the writers in 1818. In order to make his Raft of the Medusa as realistic as possible, Géricault made sketches of bodies in the morgue of the Hospital Beaujon. The painting depicts a moment recounted by one of the survivors: prior to their rescue, the passengers saw a ship on the horizon, which they tried to signal (it can be seen in the upper right of the painting). It disappeared, and in the words of one of the surviving crew members, "From the delirium of joy, we fell into profound dispondency [sic] and grief".[2] The ship, Argus, reappeared two hours later and rescued those who remained.

Géricault used friends as models, notably the painter Eugène Delacroix as the figure in the foreground with his face turned downward and arms outstretched. The work, which was realized on the epic scale of a history painting, yet based on a current news story, first appeared in the Paris Salon in 1819 and was a sensation. It currently resides in the Louvre.

Vijay said...

Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copely

John Singleton Copely was inspired to paint Watson and the Shark after an incident in Havana, Cuba. A 14 year old orphan named Brook Watson was attacked by a shark while swimming alone in the harbor. The painting depicts a rescue effort in order to save the boy. The boy's leg was bitten off, but lived well with only one leg.

This painting contains high dramatic intensity. The rescue team grabbed the boy away from death. This harbor scene serves as a "compositional foil" for the intense action

Raft of the Medusa by Gericault

For Gericault's Raft of the Medusa, Gericault took a long time to start the painting. It depicted the aftermath of a contemporary French shipwreck in which the captain had left the crew and passengers to die. It took him a while to select a scence that was effective for a shipwreck. He looked at many previous paintings of battle and death from artists such as Michelangelo, Rubens and Gros. Step by step, he continuously improved the painting. He would adjust the drawings to make the people face a certain way.

His sketches can be divided into two groups; the first defined postures, placements and board areas of light and shade, and the second was concerned with the effects of light, color and texture of his work.

His figures were represented as athletes in the vigorous health. Reality was centered throughout the painting.

Both same

Both paintings are oil on canvas. Also, both are scenes of people at sea.

Both different

Copely depicted a painting where people were saving another person.
Gericault depicted people being stranded at sea.