Art History

The Finding of Moses was painted by Laurent De La Here during the 17th Century (1647-50). Known for painting rarely depicted scenes, this painting is immediately captivating to the viewer as it portrays the scene from the bible where Moses is discovered by the King’s daughter. Although Laurent De La Here chose a scene from a well known biblical story (which was typical during the Counter Reformation), it was his portrayal of the scene itself that makes it unique from other artworks.

With his use of perspective, captivating colors, and his arrangement of delicately posed gurus, the overall composition of The Finding of Moses gave me a sense of confusion and emotionalism that allowed me to connect to it on a very humanistic level. Painted with oil on canvas, La Here was able to use color, blending and shading to give his figures a unique look that express great feelings of emotionalism.

La Here uses several complimentary colors, colors that oppose each other, which add to the overall energy of the composition. He uses soft hues of blue in the sky and water with bluefish green tones in the foliage and reflections in the water, but he chose to use right opposing colors in the drapery on all of his figures: Whites with pink, orange with blue and even purple and green.

I feel that La Here used color as a way to attract the viewers eye to the energy in the painting, as a sort of way to separate the emotion from the rest of the composition. La Here also pays close attention to detail to the modeling of the figures– his use of chiaroscuro to subtlety define the muscles and figure of each person, the soft shadows and highlights used to give the drapery ore dimension, and even the highlights and shading on the figures themselves give the viewer a feeling of a direct light source.

He makes the figures look realistic and with the added dramatic quality of the highlights in accordance with a light source, the scene looks as if it could be happening before our eyes. La Here also gives the entire piece a soft haziness of atmospheric perspective towards the background of the painting. La Here used all of these elements in combination to help connect the viewer to the emotions of his figures. La Here incorporated several elements of the 17th Century baroque style in his work that helped enforce the composition.

He even incorporates some borrowed qualities from 16th century Italian work, such as the tromp Leila, “trick of the eye” columns in the painting, even using shading and highlights to give the stone a very dimensional, realistic and textured look. His use of perspective– La Here sets his vanishing point off center and to the left, bringing the figures forward on the right and also drawing our eye towards the main focus of the painting. He also uses diagonals, even incorporating a stone ledge (in accordance to his orthogonal plane) to lead the viewers eye in the right direction.

The main focus of the composition is slightly off center and to the right; it is the basket where Moses lies where he is being discovered by the King’s daughter and 2 other figures. All of the diagonal lines lead out towards this area of the painting, it’s asymmetrical balance making it the perfect focal point of the entire composition. It is at the focal point of the entire composition hat La Here puts all of his elements to work: color, lines, and motion that we find the real connection point between the artist and the viewer.

La Here also gave the figures a lot of movement and emotion; that is, the figures do not look posed. He gives the composition a “snapshot” feel, a moment captured in time. However, each figure is very delicately posed within this “candid” felt painting. As Moses floats, the King’s daughter looks confused as she reaches towards him, stopped by strong looking man. You can almost see feel the confusion, maybe even axed with frustration, between the two figures in this exchange.

The feeling of emotional confusion and frustration is reinforced by the third member in the group throws his arms up in frustrated disorientation, as if crying out to the heavens asking for some kind of clarity or direction. The rest of the figures in the composition seem nonchalant and oblivious to the commotion happening in the foreground, as if to represent the rest of the world moving on and functioning without even noticing some personal turmoil happening right before everyone’s eyes.

This emotional exchange that La Here expressed within the core of the painting was really helped me connect, and probably other viewers connect with his composition. I think La Here’s delicately posed and extremely emotional figures in this snapshot felt scene really give this piece of art a unique quality that allows the viewer to connect with it on multiple levels of understanding, or even emphasizing with how the figures feel within the composition.

This connective quality between the viewer and composition is what helps build the relationship between how the viewer receives the piece and hat the artist intended Laurent De La Here’s use of color, in combination with line, perspective, position of his figures and overall composition that give his composition a unique ability for the viewer to be able to connect with the artist on a very deep and personal level.

The figures in the painting are arranged in a way that allow the viewers to even empathic with their emotions, creating a bridge between what the artist intended and what us, the viewers, actually feel and receive from the painting.

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