Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is known to have one of the largest and most memorable art collections in the United States with an astonishing 100 galleries. Some of the key galleries at the DIA are the Baroque and Impressionism galleries with multiple paintings done by artists from the periods of art mentioned above. Baroque artists focused on natural forms, colors, lights, and spaces with their major themes being the lives of saints, myths, tales of heroes, landscape, portraits, and histories of dynasties. On the other hand, artists of the impressionist movement had their focus on relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, ordinary subject matter, and they emphasized on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities. A painting from the Baroque galleries at DIA is “The Goldweigher’s Field” by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, which is compared to James Abbott McNeil Whistler’s “Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket” that is from DIA’s Impressionism gallery.
The Goldweigher’s Field
Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket
Although the primary subject of the two paintings is landscape, they present significant difference when it comes to styles used. Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocketis composed of bleak tones and has three primary colors, which are blue, green, and yellow. Although this painting’s composition appears to be muted, it is harmonious to a large extent. In the painting, the viewer can clearly distinguish the sky and the water. It also shows exploding fireworks in the misty air as well as almost transparent figures watching the explosion of fireworks in the sky. Like several other paintings of the Impressionism movement, this painting exhibits the use of thick and straight brushstrokes. On the other hand, The Goldweigher’s Field, from the Baroque movement, has a very fine impression with burr throughout as well as polishing marks that seemingly are vertical. The viewer can clearly identify the vertical scratches in the sky at the left as well as the inky uneven lower plate edge, both of which are common characteristics of ancient impressions. Also, evident in the painting are a minor paper loss at the tip of the upper right corner and a tiny nick at the lower left part.
As already mentioned, both paintings from different movements present the subject of landscapes although they handle the subject in different ways. Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocketpresents a landscape that is viewed at night, as highlighted by the darkness. The major features in the landscape presented in the painting are water, land, the sky, and stars. The picture represents a perfect view of the landscape at night. In contrast, The Goldweigher’s Fieldpresents a landscape that is viewed during the day, as highlighted by the light or brightness. This painting only shows a vast piece of land with nothing on it. Other than the land, a cloudless sky can also be seen in the painting. It is argued that the landscape in this painting represents the Saxenburg estate of Bloemendaal with the St. Bavorcurch of Harlem, which can be seen in the distance.
One of the formal elements of art, line, is used differently in the two paintings. InNocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket, it is hard for the viewer to identify the use of line. For example, it is hard for the viewer to identify the people who appear to be observing the sky. If line were used effectively, it would be easier to identify or single out the people observing the sky. Moreover, it is difficult to distinguish the sea from the land, and the use of different color helps the viewer distinguish one from the other. In The Goldweigher’s Field, the use of line is clear, and the viewer can easily distinguish one thing from another. For example, the fact that line has been used effectively makes it possible for the viewer to distinguish the vegetation from the church that can be seen at a distance. Moreover, the use of line in an effective and appropriate manner makes it possible for the viewer to identify the point where the land meets the sky.
As evident in Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket, during the Baroque movement, paint was applied to the canvas or panel using thick and straight brushstrokes that imitated Japanese characters in one way or the other. During the Impressionism movement, paint was applied to the canvas or panel using fine brush strokes as highlighted by the very fine impression of The Goldweigher’s Field.
Moreover, there is a significant difference in the use of color in the two paintings. In Nocturne in Black and Gold: Falling Rocket, there is a restriction on the use of colors with the main colors used being yellow, green, and blue. The blue and green color have been combined in way that some darkness that indicates a night scene is evident. In The Goldweigher’s Field, although there is a restriction in the use of color, the white color is more dominant than the other colors used. The white color presents a daytime scene, which is one of the significant difference between the two paintings.