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A Comparison of Two Paintings

A comparison of paintings by Joachim Wtewael (also spelled Uitewael and Uytewael) and Sandro Botticelli demonstrates how painters could use the same subject matter for very different purposes and arrive at very different results. The comparison also shows how the two painters' styles were suited to the specific meanings they wished to express. Both artists were Renaissance painters, though their works were painted a little over one hundred years apart, but their shared interest in the themes of ancient mythology is only the beginning of the similarities and differences in the two paintings.

The Renaissance originated in the renewal of "the study of Antiquity" but "that study manifests itself in various styles not all of which" take the classical art of Greece and Rome as their direct models (Greenhalgh 75). Some artists such as the Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) worked from ancient styles that were not "classical" (Greenhalgh 75). Others such as the Dutch Mannerist painter Joachim Wtewael (c. 1566-1638) were more heavily influenced by Italian artists than by classical art itself (Rosenberg, Slive and Ter Kuile 16-7). But the subject matter of mythology and classical literature was used by most Renaissance painters even if they did not work in specifically classical styles. The uses of classical themes could vary almost as much as the artists' styles. A good example of different approaches to the same legend is found in Wtewael's Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan (1606-10) at the Getty Museum in Malibu and Botticelli's Mars and Venus (1483) at the National Gallery in London.

At first glance it does not appear as if there could be any relation between the two paintings. The Wtewael is a tiny (8" x 6 1/8") dramatic picture filled with the action of moving figures. The Botticelli painting is extremely calm and two very still figures fill up most of the foreground while a few other smaller, more active f...

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A Comparison of Two Paintings. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:18, June 26, 2019, from