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Constant Mayer's Painting Recognition: North and South | Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Arts
Wordcount: 1380 words Published: 18th Oct 2021

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In Constant Mayer's painting Recognition: North and South date; 1865 MEDIUM Oil on canvas. The dimensions of the canvas are 68 1/8 × 93 1/2 in. (173 × 237.5 cm) Frame (outer): 86 1/4 × 110 3/4 × 7 1/4 in. (219.1 × 281.3 × 18.4 cm). The artist Constant Mayer is a French painter who migrated into the United States. Mayer became known for his creative historical paintings based on literature and exclusively for his portraits.

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His overemotional Civil war painting, "Recognition" of 1865 had grown many fans over time. Recognition: North and south is a painting of a Union soldier who is dying on the battlefield. The reason for the title Recognition is that a confederate soldier is holding on to him, perhaps his own brother who was fighting on the same battlefield. The brother in the navy-blue uniform is of the Union (North), while the older brother is wearing the grey uniform of the Confederate (South).

The painting Recognition North and South spoke many volumes to me. My family comes from a line of Marines. So, this painting hit home when I first saw it. The pain you see endured in the two brother's is overwhelming. I'm sure many people with military family members or friends felt the pain in seeing the painting. When you see something that hits home, you become more interested in the project. Mayer's used his creative focal point on the two brothers, for the viewer to understand most of our United States history is very depressing. If it wasn't for our history and every action that was caused, we wouldn't have the freedom and regulations we have now today.

Furthermore, the key term line is amplified in the painting by the contracts of different objects. For instance, the lining if the dying brothers' shoes, the left shoe is contrasting lining against the blanket behind it. Also, the fingers of the brother on the dying brother's arm is contrasting with the coat. You can also see the contrast between the mountains and the forest to the left.

Consequently, we come to terms with shapes and forms. The definition of shape and form is defined by objects in space. Shapes have two dimensions, height, and width and are usually defined by lines. Forms exist in three dimensions with height, width, and depth. To emphasize, the gun laying in front of the dying brother shows lines and shapes. The long barrow of the gun shows dimension. Also, to enumerate the rock where the dying brother is laying on is also shows depth and dimension. Also, I love how very well detailed Mayer's was when drawing out the details on both brother's faces. The way the big brothers have the wrinkles on the top of his orbitals are very précised. Additionally, the younger brother has very detailed triangle-shaped nostrils, when you zoom in to him you can also see the lining on the side of his nose which gives the painting an overall more natural look.

Moreover, we have the term space. Space is defined as three-dimensional objects. Space in artwork is referred to as a feeling of depth and or three dimensions. Identically, some artists use the area within the picture plane. Artists sometimes use negative space and also positive space in their artwork. To demonstrate, Mayer used three-dimensional space within the two brothers and the tree behind them. In fact, Mayer's also used positive and negative space, by having a shadow within the two brothers as positive space. While the white space behind the two brothers is negative space. Additionally, you can also see the white smoke behind the two brothers which is termed to be a positive space, and the forest to be negative space.

In addition, color is what most of this painting is about. Color has three main attributes: Hue which is green, red, blue, yellow, etc., Value and intensity are also a big primary term used within color and paintings. Colors can be described as warm which are red, yellow or even cool blue, gray. All corresponds which end of the color spectrum. In Mayer's painting, we see a lot of cool and warm colors. In both brothers' fingers, we have warm tones also in the brother's beard. We have cool tones in the environment behind the two brothers. Also, the way Mayer's used brown, green, red, and white for his color contribution to make the rocks look more realistic, as just like everything else.

One of the most intrigued characteristics that has caught my attention about Mayer's painting is texture. The definition of texture is the surface quality of an object that we sense through touch. When I view the painting, I get a sense of soft texture. The softness contrast within the skin and the clothes is so interesting on how someone can make paintings looks so realistic. Also, the big brother that is holding his dying little brother, you can see the texture of his coat, very well textured.

Moreover, value is defined in which the relative lightness or darkness of a color. Additionally, the background of the two brothers is dark, which brings light to the center point of where the brothers are placed. The dynamic of the darkness in which the colors bring to the main focus which is the brothers are brilliant. Mayer did a phenomenal job on making the brothers a focal point by making the painting seem like it had its own spotlight in front of the painting itself.

Furthermore, the recognition of North and South has a balance in it which refers to the dynamic of the imagery visual weights that balance one another. For example, on the right side with have the forest in the background which weighs in with the left side where the two brothers, the rock, and the branch are placed.

Additionally, come to terms with proportion, is the principle of art that defines as in size, scale, or location. The location of the Recognition: North and South are apprehended in the Civil War (c. 1861-1865).

Besides, rhythm is comprehended in the painting as well. Rhythm is the principle of design. Examples of rhythm is created through repetition of lines, colors, shapes, etc. Hence, the cracks on the ground near both of the brother's legs. You may see the repetition of each line repeating itself towards the rocks in the background. Additionally, the tress is also an example of repetition.

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Consequently, emphasis is defined as an area that draws the viewers' attention. The focal point for the Recognition of North and South is the big brother holding his younger brother. The brothers are well highlighted with the brightness of the colors used by Mayer. Mayer's also used warm colors in the background of the two brothers in order to emphasis the viewers' attention to the main focus of the whole painting.

Therefore, unity is what makes the artwork feel complete and finished. What brings the whole painting together is unity. For example, people with military background are well more attached to this painting. The attachment created within seeing Mayer's painting causes a unity within the viewer and who every they know who's in/was in the military.

Moreover, contrast is defined as the difference in the elements such as color, value, size, texture, etc. In the painting, Mayer's used the contrast on the right side to bring a variety of cool tones towards the brothers. Contrast can be seen in the painting overall. The colors are contrasted from one another to make sure the focal point stays on the brothers.

In conclusion, my overall experience when I see the painting Recognition: North and South. I felt as if I was in that painting itself. The texture and the variety of different shapes were well painted to seem more realistic. When the viewer sees a painting that not only looks realistic but also can relate too, brings many satisfaction and interest. I would highly recommend everyone to go view this painting and try to read the story behind it.


  • http://mfahouston.blogspot.com/2012/03/north-americapainting-recognition-north.html
  • https://www.mfah.org/art/detail/111401
  • https://www.hamilton.edu/documents/Writing%20an%20Art%20History%20Paper.pdf


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