Since the first brush stroke was taken in Europe, the paintings that have been produced have played a vital role in revealing our world’s past, history, religion and daily lives of its citizens.
Each time period and movement have influenced artists from its first existence to even this very day, creating an extraordinary timeline of art and history as one. Frans Hals’ Merrymakers at Shrovetide of 1615 and Francois Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep of 1750 are no exception.Despite their different time periods and movements, the two paintings each have many parallels and at the same time very distinct styles which play on how influential artists’ styles are upon each other. Even with all of the differences and similarities, both paintings are truly exemplary in exposing their time periods.
When looking at Hals’ Merrymakers at Shrovetide and Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep, the subject matters are highly dissimilar. In Hals’ painting, he focuses mainly on the event of Shrovetide or Mardi Gras.The two male figures in the background have been identified as typical characters from comic theatre: Peeckelhaering on the left with a garland of eggs and sausages and Hans Wurst on the right with sausages upon his cap. The woman in the foreground, who may be modeled after a male actor, is surrounded by these men.
Food, bagpipes and the obscene gestures made by the man behind her also surround her and all reference sex. Hals captures the crude and rude actions that take place in local taverns within this painting as the young woman is swarmed by numerous rambunctious males.On the other end, Francois Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep shows a young boy who is a herder of goats, using a feather to tickle the neck of a sleeping shepherdess. The girl is viewed to have fallen asleep after picking wild and quite largely scaled flowers.
This country-side scene is believed to be a symbol of innocence and purity. People were thought to be more natural and exemplify the ideal of the perfect human when in touch with nature. Along with the innocence theme, a dog is shown in the foreground of the painting which often symbolizes loyalty.When comparing the two paintings’ style there are many similarities as Interrupted Sleep of the Rococo period came after the tail end of the Baroque period in which Merrymakers at Shrovetide was completed.
Hals’ painting show’s well indulged and plump figures with fairly muted colors with some use of reds. It is a centrally planned composition with no landscape – only an endless crowd of merry men. The painting is also quite dark overall with nice value and shading, as the setting is in a tavern during the evening with little natural light.Although with Hals’ technique of using dashing brushstrokes, the painting appears as if it could come to life with its realistic rendering of the tavern scene.
This technique goes unnoticed until one closes in upon the painting to view his actually brush strokes which could possibly even be counted. Unlike Merrymakers at Shrovetide, Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep illustrates two tall and thin figures of elegance upon a quiet countryside scene. The painting is lighter in value with natural sunlight and contains a number of more colors making it a more upbeat and pleasant picture.The rich and lavish vegetation spreads through the background with a small and rounded architectural form.
The brush stroke is smoother and gives the painting a more natural and quiet appeal as it is overall more intimately themed. Like in Hals’ painting, Boucher takes advantage of value and uses it with folds on clothing and shadows that are casted from both figures and surrounding objects. It is also a centralized painting, focusing on the two figures, even more with a circular border surrounding the two.Both paintings truly exemplify the time period and movement they were produced in.
Although born in Rome, the Baroque style became international and spread to Flanders and Holland where it became known as the Holland’s Golden Age. Frans Hals’ painting is a great example as it is a genre scene portraying extraordinary realism. Realistic, everyday scenes were stylistic of the time and Merrymakers at Shrovetide definitely portrays these stylistic approaches as the tavern scene of crude men is painted upon the canvas.Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep also is a work of it’s time, in the style of Rococo.
As seen in the lightly colored painting, the stage is smaller and more intimate. The theme is quite lighthearted, whimsical and enchanting as the two thin figures are care-free while in nature at the same time. On a larger scale, the painting celebrates the world of human emotion and love. The two paintings, perfect examples of their time, do contain both similarities and differences despite the difference artistic movement.
Artists’ styles have been reflected upon each other throughout the history of art, and as can be seen, continue to do so to this day. Frans Hals’ Merrymakers at Shrovetide and Francois Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep both contain all of the stylistic and themed approaches that took place during the Baroque in Holland and Rococo. Despite the differences, many similarities are apparent as the influence throughout Europe spread like wildfire.