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Goya and Gericault's Paintings

The works of Goya and Gericault portray contrasted images of children. While Goya uses very light brush strokes to depict the innocence of the child nature, Gericault’s strokes are put with a heavier hand. Even though the central characters of both pictures are children, they represent opposing classes. In addition, the painters make different use of background: while Goya places his character in a dark room to contrast him, Gericault underlines the wilderness of Alfred Dedreux’s character making him pose on the free spaces of nature. Nonetheless, despite the numerous contrasting aspects represented in the paintings on the similar topic, both works make almost an identical use of light to expose the main characters in their beauty.

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First, being painted at around the same time the images differ in the manner that they had been painted. Mainly, Gericault paints the portrait heavily, while Goya uses light brush strokes to underline the tenderness of the age. Goya bases his painting on a play of highly contrasting details, such as colors, plans in the frame, perspective and lighting, supporting it all with brush strokes. Goya paints a rather somber portrait of a young child, which has many dark detailed objects. Nevertheless, this to create highly detailed painting Goya chooses light brush strokes. Gericault connects the elements of his painting choosing a matching color gamma and the mood of the picture. However, Gericault paints the image with heavy strokes to depict some aspects of the character of the central person.

Second, the paintings differ in the choice of gamma. Both painters use majorly cold colors in their pictures, even though Gericault’s portrait still feels warmer and more inviting due to the choice of background. Goya decides to choose cold shades in a child portrait, taking greyish paints as the base of his masterpiece. In such a way, he pushes the attention of the viewer to the boy, drawing the attention from other elements such as toys and garments. It seems that in this frame even the boy himself obtains a greyish skin color, probably pointing out at a sickness. To the opposite, Gericault follows the cannons of child painting and follows the natural color gamma with usage of cold shades as well, such as blue and green, to depict the young boy. The viewer may see the repetitive color patterns in the sky and the boys’ clothes, which also serves as a transcending media connecting the boy to the general frame.

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Third, in a similar composition of a child portrait Goya and Gericault breeze in the opposite themes into their paintings. Both paintings position the main characters in the center of the painting. Nevertheless, while Goya uses perspective to detach his character from the rest of the frame, Gericault plays with position and colors to connect the boy to the environment. Goya uses numerous plans to pan the character to the front while sending his toys to the back of the painting. Goya’s character does not seem to work with the rest of the objects in the painting even though he is holding the handle of the toy horse. Gericault uses air and line perspective to portray a small child bigger in the immense spaces behind him. He chooses low horizon to make the boy look bigger, in such a way making him the center of the picture with the background of spacious landscape. The nature at the background indicates the wilderness of the character, and the connectedness of the young man with the freedom of natural landscapes.

Even though Goya and Gericault present two paintings on a similar theme, which include highly contrasting details, both painters emphasize the importance of the central person to the painting using lights and shadows. Goya’s Pepito is situated in a rather dark corner, portrayed with toys and garments of cold and dark shades. However, Pepito himself reminds an angel with his enlightened face and snow white trousers and blouse. These elements make Pepito stand out on the background of dark and grey elements. In addition, Goya uses Rembrandt’s lighting technique to depict his character in this frame. Gericault prefers natural light shed by the afternoon, almost setting down sun. Gericault, too, uses Rembrandt’s technique and positions his character on ¾ of a turn to emphasize better angles. Even though emotionally and thematically connected, the lighting techniques in the Gericault’s painting also separate the central figure from the background, separating the frontal frame from the rest of the nature. The lighting in this painting also sets the mood for the viewer. The face of the boy dictates balanced peacefulness, which in combination with the natural landscape on the background creates the sense of freedom, light, and tenderness.

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To sum up, representation of  similar topic paintings by Goya and Gericault can be evaluated as highly contrasted in terms of various elements, such as color scheme, brush strokes, composition and view point. Goya’s Pepito is presented in a more obscure, dark background, using cold shades, yet portraying a warm angel-like image. Gericault paints Alfred Dedreux in a spacious landscape with bright colors, yet his face shows a more distant look. While the characters of the paintings are different, the artists use similar lighting techniques to center their characters and connect them to the frame. Both Goya and Gericault use Rembrandt’s techniques to position their characters at the center.

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