The Kiss, Gustav Klimt, 1908, Vienna, Austria
Gustav Klimt, 1911
Nightwatch, Rembrandt, 1642, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
La Primavera, Botticelli 1478, Florence, Italy
Looking at the renown museums of today, it’s hard to fully fathom they were once a new, revolutionary idea for viewing art. Back in the day, an art master’s work would be shown in private art collector’s manors, castles of the noble or large aristocrats’ apartments; majestic wood paneled floors, high, lush ceilings and wide impressive windows would assist in the atmosphere of a decadent setting. But art has a different name to it, now. It is not common for a patron to recruit an artist, tell them what they want and to what purpose the art would be created for. Instead, auctions or art shows are held, and art collectors will usually purchase a piece of art, having never met the artist with their own ideas for the piece. It seems with time we have completely lost the interaction step, of patron, artist and purpose. I’m not one to note whether that is better or worse - it’s clearly different - as society has changed in so many ways within the social customs of time. I’ve decided to analyze a few of my favourite works of art over the ages, so we can see the differences between the production of all of them, and if that (in any way) has to do with the quality or appreciation of the work.
The first painting I wish to explore is Primavera, by Botticelli, and was painted in 1478, for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici. It is suggested that Lorenzo Medici commissioned Botticelli to embody the Neoplatonic ideas that were popular in the Medici family circles. Neoplatonism is a mix between both Christian doctrine ideals and the stories of Greek and Roman mythology and society. Primavera is known to many as “visual poetry” and is stylistically the embodiment of Botticelli’s characteristics. As a painting within the Early Renaissance, it is still regarded today as being one of the most famous of Boticelli’s works. Being commissioned, Botticelli had a firm understanding of what his patron wanted, and for that matter, was not given as much freedom as another commissioned artist who would later produce as epic a piece.
Rembrandt painted Nightwatch for Captain Barining Cocq and 17 members of his civic guards, in 1642 at the peak of Netherlands’ golden age. We can only assume, but many believe that the guardsmen expected a group portrait in which each member would be clearly recognizable. No one was expecting the explosion of emotion, motion and depth Rembrandt would give to a usually mundane, insipid and intense portrayal of military. The painting was commissioned to be hung in the banquet hall of the newly built "Kloveniersdoelen" (Musketeers' Meeting Hall) in Amsterdam. To me, it seems so much more fitting to hang in a regal Hall rather than a Museum, where it would employ the characteristics that impose intimidation.
The last painting I look to analyze is The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. This painting was created in 1908 for no patron. Klimt was an Austrian who had been commissioned in the early 1890's to paint with his brother, though their project was delayed because of conflict, and Klimt would never receive another public commission again. The Kiss is viewed by hundreds of people a day, in Vienna, Austria at the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere Museum.
I feel as though this painting can show a lot more about the artist than Primavera and Nightwatch. This is because Botticelli and Rembrandt never exposed themselves rawly, for they never painted what was within their souls; they brought about their talents and shed them to the public through their patrons wishes, but they never were given the chance to just paint what they felt like (that we know of). Klimt, however, mostly painted for himself. He usually always depicted women or trees, in bright, organic styles that would later be known as Art Noveau. His emotions were caught into the paintings rather than just technique or style of the time.