Understanding Visual Communication

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This week’s assignment considers issues involved with physical, spatial and cultural context focussing on a case study involving two portraits by Leonardo da Vinci as displayed in an exhibition at the National Gallery London. Please note, I am not asking for biographical research on Leonardo, or for discussion of his other paintings.

The goals of the assignment are to:

1) to consider the issues and concerns of curating a display

2) to consider the differences between historical and ahistorical (whether thematic or revisionist) modes of display

3) to consider one’s own reception of the given artworks and to consider how others might experience them

Based upon the concepts and examples from lecture and tutorial, and considering how spatial circumstances affect viewer experience, discuss the choices for the display of these two portraits. Basic questions to consider might include:

What kind of narrative is being created by the arrangement of the portraits? Why does this matter? How might the viewer experience this part of the exhibit? What other associated circumstances might also be factors? Would you arrange them this way? Why or why not? What are some other ways in which the images could have been arranged? What are the implications of these choices?

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan

In 2011, the National Gallery in London held a major exhibition focussing on da Vinci’s paintings. If you want the complete exhibition guide it can be found near the bottom of the page at this site:

This assignment is concerned with the display of the paintingsand

Details and images of the two portraits can be found on the next page.

Other works in the room by Leonardo were mostly sketches (hands, animals) that scholars believe served as studies for the two paintings under discussion.

In this YouTube video at about the 0:50 mark, the curator is being interviewed in front of the larger painting.

As the camera moves back at 1:03, you can see the arrangement with the smaller portrait on the wall to the left (clearer than in this screenshot)

 

 

(there are several other YouTube videos that may show the space as well – up to you how many you want to watch).

The two paintings were displayed in Room 2 of the Exhibition, a space organized around the theme of “Beauty and Love”. In the room, the curator chose to hang on the half wall, opposite the doorway from Room 1. was hung on the wall to the left, “looking at” the other portrait. As most scholars identify as the wife of Ludovico Sforza, this arrangement of paintings created an interesting dynamic between the two paintings which was commented on by many visitors to the gallery. Keep in mind, that in their own time, these works were not displayed together.

The Lady with an Ermine

The Belle Ferronnière

The Belle Ferronnière

The Belle Ferronnière

The Lady with an Ermine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv_sP5VM8Vg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sv_sP5VM8Vg

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-painter-at-the-court-of-milan-9-november-2011-1200

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/leonardo-da-vinci-painter-at-the-court-of-milan-9-november-2011-1200

Information excerpted from the exhibition guide

Last Updated on April 5, 2020 by Essay Pro