Merrymakers At Shrovetide vs Interrupted Sleep

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From the moment the first brush stroke was made in Europe, paintings have played a significant role in uncovering the history, culture, and daily existence of humanity.

Both Frans Hals’ Merrymakers at Shrovetide of 1615 and Francois Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep of 1750 showcase the influence of different time periods and movements on artists throughout history. Despite their unique styles, these two paintings have several parallels that highlight the impact of artists on each other. Ultimately, both artworks serve as outstanding examples that reflect the characteristics of their respective time periods.

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When comparing Hals’ Merrymakers at Shrovetide and Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep, it is evident that their subject matters are quite different. Hals primarily focuses on the event of Shrovetide or Mardi Gras in his painting. In the background, there are two male figures who are recognized as typical characters from comic theatre. On the left, there is Peeckelhaering with a garland of eggs and sausages, while on the right, Hans Wurst is depicted with sausages on his cap. The woman in the foreground, who may be based on a male actor, is surrounded by these men.

In Hals’ painting, the young woman is surrounded by food, bagpipes, and the obscene gestures of a man behind her, all of which have sexual connotations. This captures the crude and rude actions that occur in local taverns. The young woman is overwhelmed by rowdy males. On the other hand, in Francois Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep, a young boy who herds goats is portrayed tickling the neck of a sleeping shepherdess with a feather. The girl is depicted as having fallen asleep after gathering large, wild flowers.

According to popular belief, this rural scene symbolizes innocence and purity. It was believed that people were more authentic and embodied the ideal of the perfect human when they were in harmony with nature. Additionally, the presence of a dog in the foreground of the painting often represents loyalty. When comparing the two paintings’ styles, there are numerous similarities. “Interrupted Sleep” belongs to the Rococo period, which followed the Baroque period when “Merrymakers at Shrovetide” was created.

Hals’ painting depicts well-fed and chubby figures in subdued colors with hints of red. The composition is centrally organized and lacks a landscape, instead focusing on a continuous crowd of joyful individuals. The overall tone of the painting is quite dark, accentuated by excellent use of shading and value, as it is set in an evening tavern with limited natural light. Hals’ distinct brushwork imbues the painting with a sense of vibrancy, making the tavern scene come to life through its realistic portrayal.

This technique is not noticeable until one approaches the painting to examine the actual brush strokes, which could possibly be counted. In contrast to Merrymakers at Shrovetide, Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep depicts two slender and elegant figures in a tranquil countryside setting. The painting has a lighter tone with natural sunlight and includes a greater variety of colors, giving it a more cheerful and enjoyable appearance. The lush and opulent foliage extends throughout the background, accompanied by a small and rounded architectural structure.

The brush stroke in Boucher’s painting is smoother, resulting in a more natural and tranquil aesthetic. Similar to Hals’ painting, Boucher utilizes value by incorporating folds on clothing and shadows created by both figures and surrounding objects. The painting also has a central focus on the two figures, emphasized by a circular border that surrounds them. Both paintings accurately represent the time period and artistic movement in which they were created.

Although born in Rome, the Baroque style became international and spread to Flanders and Holland where it became known as 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 is also a work of its time, in the style of Rococo.

The stage in the lightly colored painting is smaller and more intimate, with a lighthearted and whimsical theme. The two thin figures are care-free in nature, celebrating the world of human emotion and love. Despite being perfect examples of their time, the paintings have both similarities and differences due to their different artistic movement.

Throughout the history of art, artists have influenced each other’s styles. This trend continues today. Two paintings, Frans Hals’ Merrymakers at Shrovetide and Francois Boucher’s Interrupted Sleep, exemplify the stylistic and thematic characteristics of the Baroque in Holland and Rococo periods. Despite their differences, these paintings demonstrate similarities, highlighting the widespread influence of these artistic movements across Europe.

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Merrymakers At Shrovetide vs Interrupted Sleep. (2018, Feb 21). Retrieved from

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