Oct 19 2009

The True Power Of Color

Published by Amrita Narine under Michelangelo's First Painting

When one first looks at Michelangelo’s First Painting, it is evident that it holds two different scenes. The first scene, which is the background, appears to be a perfect utopian world placed in a serene environment. This contrasts with the second scene, which is at the forefront of the painting. Saint Anthony, the demons, and the rocks are all painted with more vibrant colors creating a chaotic image, which is juxtaposed with the calming background.
While the background imagery is nice and pleasant, what really pops out of the painting is the scene in the front, which creates an initial sense of fear because the demons are torturing Saint Anthony. However, after taking a second look and noticing Saint Anthony’s calm expression, it creates a sense of strength that is formed by his patience. The strength then invokes a courageous, almost uplifting feeling. The background appears to be a regular landscape painting, however, the images filled with the bright and vibrant colors popped out of the painting, as though one were wearing 3-D glasses while watching the painting.
The painting invokes an awe-inspiring feeling because of the contrast created. One contrast created, is between the two scenes. The scene in the back has trees that are healthy and green. On the other hand, the forefront has one dead tree spouting from the rock. While one scene represents peace and serenity, the other represents devastation and destruction. Furthermore, while one would imagine darker colors to represent the torment Saint Anthony is facing, Michelangelo instead uses stunning, vivid colors, which contrasts with the content of the image itself. The unexpectedness of the colors creates a surprising scene, which forces the viewer to seriously consider what is that they are viewing.
When compared to the original drawing by Martin Schongauer, the one by Michelangelo feels more real. The detail in color is truly extraordinary, which is especially noticeable in the perfectly defined fish scales on one of the monsters. A second demon has a shiny silver sheen to it, while yet another demon is defined by its intense, vibrant red wings. The details in Michelangelo’s painting greatly differ from those in the original piece. The colors are more detailed and careful in the painting, while the original has more detail in the actual features. The calming background that exists in Michelangelo’s piece creates a different feeling. Saint Anthony looks less troubled by the torment of the demon, as though he really is patiently enduring the pain. On the other hand, the detailed images in the original make the demons look more frenzied and terrifying and it makes Saint Anthony look much more disturbed then he is described as being.
For different people, the painting will invoke different feelings. It will leave different impressions on everyone. For me, I felt strength and courage. It is uplifting to think that if Saint Anthony can calmly endure the torment of multiple demons, then what do I have to complain about? From this painting I understand that life is not about getting what you want, but more about dealing with what you are given. Things will not always turn out your way, but you need to accept them and endure them.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

One response so far

One Response to “The True Power Of Color”

  1.   Fabiana Sagreraon 24 Oct 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I agree with you, the painting show two different scenes that contrast.
    I really like how in the last few sentences you related the painting to real life.