In both these paintings there is a slave present and they are both in the main focus. In the painting of the "kitchen maid..." the maid is a young African girl who is most likely a slave. She is the main pictorial subject in the painting she is in the middle of an act of serving. Velazquez deliberately places her in front of a painting with Christ. She is placed in the kitchen of an Inn where Christ and his two disciples have stopped for their supper. She is surrounded by kitchen utensils and objects. These symbolize an act of charity and suggest that the location of the painting setting may have been in a convent, it also reminds us that whilst the gift of food is seen as a charity it also imposes that gluttony is a sin. Both the meal and story are invisible in this painting. Plates that are visible are already washed and dried. The place of high honour is a dirty rag on the table in the central foreground, the only piece of visible food is a lone bulb of garlic on the bottom right hand corner. This could suggest that even with a shortage of food the slave is able to still give the gift of food.
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In the "beach scene" we have a woman combing the hair of a little girl who is covered in the shade. The nursemaid, who we assume may be a slave, is exposed to the heat of the sun. She does not wear a hat or in the shade of a parasol, suggest that she is not from the same social class as the girl or any other person on the beach.
The setting of these pictures is entirely different. The "kitchen maid..." being set indoors and the "beach scene" being set outdoors. The "Kitchen maid" is set in a very dark and lightless setting. The setting has a sense of enclosure and lack of space, there is not much freedom to move around in. it portrays the traditional place of where a slave should be in the kitchen serving other people. Where is there is stark contrast with Degas's painting being set in an unusual scene, outside on a beach. There is a sense of wide open space and freedom. It has a new subject matter which is the beach. In the time it was painted the beach was a contemporary landscape, it was not very common for people to spend the day on the beach. It shows a whole new experience in Japan.
The use of colour in both painting is also very different. In the "kitchen maid..." Velazquez uses a very restricted colour palette using only whites, browns and ochre. This helps with the indoor setting in creating dark shades and creating strong harmonies within the painting. The colours are very bland and neutral which can relate to the traditional and day to day setting in the picture. When he uses the white paint this creates a stark contrast to the recurring brown that is in the image focusing our eyes to the pitcher, the rag, the maids head scarf and the stacked plates. It highlights the basic surrounding of a kitchen and the importance of symbol of them as aforementioned. The colours used in the beach scene are entirely different, Degas a wider colour range. He uses bright colours of blue, greens, yellows, light browns, white, turquoise and dark colour of red, green, browns and black. He uses the dark colours to highlight the main pictorial subject which is the maid nurse combing the hair of the little girls as she dries in the sun. Â The little girl is wearing a black skirt with a black and white pinstriped top, whilst the maid wears a dark brown colored skirt. He also uses a dark wine/red colour in the little girl's swimming costume which is laid out in the sun to dry also. He uses bright neutral colours for the people in the background, he uses an eye popping turquoise colour on the lady's shawl to draw our attention to the encounter between the lady and the man with the dogs, to show the stories and hustle and bustle that is going on in the background on a typical day on the beach. he uses colour on the sails of the boats, and uses a dark colour for the people by the water to evoke the typical activities on the beach, he blend the people who are wrapped in towels Â and leaving the beach almost into the background. He uses a reddish colour in the maids face to high-light the fact she is a servant or slave, as she has no protection from the sun.
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The use of technique and style are radically different in both paintings. The "kitchen maid" is from a contemporary baroque period whereas the "beach scene" is from an impressionism period. The contemporary baroque style contains a religious theme permeating the work of art and composes of historical or religious stories, figures with a modern backround, settings and clothing. this type of painting was used to provoke people into developing their own opinions and thinking of the reality that is represented in the painting and to think of the moral consequences Â The religious theme in this painting is a depiction of a maid tidying up after a supper that Jesus Christ supposedly had eaten. The story is taken from the Gospel of Luke. In summary Jesus walked with his disciples, their eyes not recognizing who he was, they talked and ate with them breaking the bread and giving thanks, and then they realized he was Jesus he disappeared. We see from the maid face her expression is of shock, she is lost in a train of thought, her head turned toward the window where we see Christ in the painting in the background; it looks as if she is listening to Christ's words. The religious images or pictorial caption are moralizing and intellectual and are painted to differentiate from the foreground focus that is very realistic to blur the line between image and reality.
Degas is an impressionist, therefore uses this style for the "beach scene "painting. This is a new style approach to painting; it uses a new brush technique, which has thin and small paint brush strokes. He uses this type of style to emphasize the movement and activities that are occurring on the beach, he includes the elements of human experience and perceptions. It also used to capture the essence of the subject matter rather than going into meticulous detail.
In conclusion, the two paintings are similar in that they both have a similar subject matter; they both have a slave or servant as their pictorial focal point. However they have a different setting the "kitchen maid" being set indoors in a very confined place and doing her traditional role and the "beach scene" being set in the outdoors, with lots of space, freedom and human interaction. The use of colour is also very different in that Velazquez uses a restricted colour palette of browns and whites, whereas Degas uses bright and intense vibrant colours throughout his portrait to emphasize the subject matter but also to highlight the movement that is going on in the background.
The 'Beach Scene' suggests the idea of a holiday or a journey, and a day out at the beach. It was not painted outdoors, but in the artist's studio. This raises the importance of the imagination and how we can think about a place where we would like to be. The idea of going to the beach is a very familiar one, but items like the swimming costume laid out in the foreground are very different from such garments today. There are several little incidents to notice in the painting which suggest stories, like the encounter between the man and the womanâ€¦
The styles used in both paintings are also very different. Velazquez painting is from a contemporary baroque period, where religious themes are always evident within a painting
he uses a pictorial style from traditional topics from the baroque era using form and figures. Whereas Degas is style is impressionism, he uses a new brush technique and uses colour to highlight subject matter and movement throughout the painting.