By Paul Crowther
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Extra resources for How Pictures Complete Us: The Beautiful, the Sublime, and the Divine
We will recall how in “accumulating materials” the artist must look to the achievements of the great masters and study the pictorial features that are the special strength of the master in question. Here Reynolds acknowledges that whatever the philosophical basis of the grand style, its exemplars have their own individual stylistic perspectives on it. Titian and the Venetians are especially strong on color, Michelangelo on composition, and so on. 22 I D E A L B E AU T Y A N D C L A S SIC A RT What this means is that the grand style is given vitality not only through its orientation toward the ideal as such but to individual stylistic distinctiveness and emphases in how this is realized.
Space could, in principle, have come to exist with a different structure, but for us it exists in just the way it does. For religious believers, this must be for a reason. The signatures may themselves, accordingly, be signs of a logic of world-ordering that is divinely ordained. The immanent geometric structures are, as it were, God’s thinking of space so as to provide physical conditions that enable the evolution and survival of rational embodied subjects. Insofar as the artist works with these very same structures, therefore, his or her creative powers follow in the shadow of God’s creativity.
Represented scene is one of licentious abandon. Yet there is an exquisite balance between the articulation of flesh and the disposition of the body, on the one hand, and the restrained expression of color (especially in the drapery), on the other. The bodies and flesh are well modeled, while the figures’ gestures are meaningful not only as presentations of movement but through being at the same time displays of limbs and torsi in extended elevation (rather than merely being presented frontally).