The Medieval Art and the Renaissance Art are the two opposite sides of one river. The distinctions between them are drastic, however, the latter still evolved from the former, therefore, a few similarities can also be found. The painting that characterizes the Dark Ages at its best is “Ascending to Calvary” by Giacomo Jacquerio. To the contrary of the ecclesiastical motives of the Medieval art, which were prevalent in all possible forms and styles and strictly limited to the church-dictated images, the Renaissance art brought a completely new way of painting giving the opportunity to the artists to use a larger variety of colors. Leonardo da Vinci can fairly be called one of the brightest representatives of the Renaissance period.
Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Mona Lisa” has an outstanding iconography which compiles hundreds of articles, movies, books written and shot to explain its meaning. Some see the face of Jesus Christ in the portrait, others – Leonardo da Vinci when he tried to portrait himself as a woman. According to the research analysis conducted by Lillian F. Schwarz, the facial features match perfectly so highly probable that Leonardo tried to create such a hermaphrodite, maybe to emphasize the dual nature of all humans. Gioconda’s enigmatic smile shows us the unfathomable calmness, a great deal of confidence, and, surprisingly, some shade of contempt. Incredible work which probably will never be entirely understood, or better when everyone seeks its own meaning in her eyes and smile. This unique symbolism can be also referred to the “Ascending to Calvary” by Giacomo Jaquerio – his painting does not possess such mysterious meaning as “Mona Lisa”, however, in the open depiction of the Jesus Christ who carries the cross towards his death, surrounded by those who are eager to crucify him right there, there seems to be also a hidden cry for the injustices and restrictions of the government ruled practically by the pious clergy which does not recognize any other authority and any other truth but its own.
“Ascending to Calvary” is made with white-grayish colors, however, these colors do not give the expected lightness and positivity of the painting. On the contrary, they create a feeling of some morbid misery which is impossible to overcome. “Mona Lisa”, on the other hand, is depicted in dark colors which only add up to the mystery the picture hides. These dark colors, however, do not create the possible ominous feeling, but instill the image with liveliness and enigma.
Giacomo Jaquerio definitely lacks the confidence for his characters: Neither Christ’s murderers nor the Messiah himself seem to be sure in what they are doing. If it is possible to recognize the lack of courage of the people who surround Jesus (because it was not them who decided to crucify Christ) and their feelings can be mixed from what they see and what they were told, then the total bitterness and no confidence on the Jesus’ face only show the lack of skill of the artist. “Mona Lisa”, even if she hides something, she does it confidently showing a trained hand of its painter.
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Leonardo da Vinci created an image of someone who can be considered a real person. No religious touches can be found in the painting. The strokes of paint are very soft, slowly passing from one to another, whereas, Giacomo Jaquerio’s images are somehow distorted: The observer sees creatures who can definitely be identified as people, however, their appearance is so vague and casual that it is difficult to look at it for a long time without a feeling of some inner resistance. “Ascending to Calvary” is a detailed description of the evils which happened during the long period of the Dark Ages, even that the well-known painting describes quite a different theme.
The Medieval epoch as well as the Renaissance has its remarkable artists. Unfortunately, the strong influence of the religious top in the first period caused a lot of limitations to the possibilities of the painters of that time. The era of Renaissance, on the other hand, marked the beginning of the revival, new age for the art, and gave a lot of freedom to the artists who can finally reveal their thoughts on the canvas. Of course, the restrictions still existed, but such skillful artists as Leonardo da Vinci were able to trespass them without violation of the standards established by the government and the church. It is not an easy job to compare and contrast such different works by even more different artists, as each of them carries a certain meaning outlining the burning problems of that epoch when they were created. Without the Dark Ages, the Renaissance would not be the rebirth of the art, so its importance cannot be undermined.