Abilene Christian University The Old Musician Visual Painting Historical Analysis understand the work in relation to its original social context. Politics,

Abilene Christian University The Old Musician Visual Painting Historical Analysis understand the work in relation to its original social context. Politics, gender, race, religion, etc., will figure into this analysis in various ways. Please give an example of the details in the panting and analyze it.

must have a thesis, with sufficient visual and historical evidence to support it.

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Comparison with the first paper,your new thesis should indicate whether or not, and to what degree, your historical research bears out your initial assertions about your work. Do you stand by your original conclusions or have you changed your mind? Either way, explain why. The Old Musician Analysis
The oil painting The Old Musician by Edouard Manet (1862), currently kept at the
National Gallery of Arts, Washington D.C., makes a striking impression on the viewer. It is
composed of seven human figures, including the infant. Three children, along with an infant,
and two adults, are gathered around the figure of an aged street musician with a violin. Various
visual cues indicate physical and mental distress in all of these characters. Elements of dress,
posture, and facial expression serve to convey the destitute plight of the lower classes, especially
that of children. The artwork does not serve to please the viewer or entertain him. Instead, it
evokes feelings of compassion, invites to contemplate the social problem, and, possibly, envision
ways to better it.
If one looks at the painting The Old Musician closely, one gets the impression that each
of its characters has been borrowed by the artist from another painting. The figures seem to be
separated by invisible borders, making up several independent groups. Therefore, there is no
atmosphere, customary for contemplating classical artwork, with traditional plots and
harmoniously constructed compositions, where all elements are interconnected. Because of this,
the painting appears similar to a photograph, that caught a group of subjects unawares, at a
moment in life, when they had not been prepared to pose. This adds to the realistic impression
from the artwork, which serves to foster thought, rather than entertain.
At the center of the painting, there is an old man with a black but graying beard, holding
a violin. He has a darker skin tone than other characters, and, possibly, belongs to one of the
outcast social groups of the time, forced to earn bread wandering. He looks directly at the
viewer and is set apart from other figures. It can be assumed that he is the wandering musician,
after whom the painting is named. The musician is highlighted compositionally, being located at
the center of the canvas. However, one cannot be sure that he is the center, in terms of the
painting’s meaning, because several strange characters that surround him steal the viewer’s
The three children and an infant make up the most striking group. On the artwork’s left
side, there is a girl in rags, with a child in her arms. It can be assumed that she holds her brother
or sister, because she looks too young to be a mother. If the child were in fact hers, the viewer is
stricken by the strange and cruel world that has caused this to happen. A couple of boys, one of
whom is portrayed wearing a round hat, just like the girl, cannot be said to come from a
prosperous family. One of the boys is dressed in white and looks towards the viewer, while the
second boy is dressed in darker clothing. The boy in a big white hat looks like a wandering
artist, and his hat resembles an attribute of a character from the street theater. Next to him, there
is a boy in dark clothing, with a slightly sideways glance. He is hugging his counterpart, not
only because they are friends, but because he sees poorly or cannot see at all. Most likely, the
boy in white works on the streets and begs to feed himself and his child companion. Thus, all
four children are shown in a dismal plight.
The two adult men on the musician’s right also show signs of distress, either physical or
mental. The man in a tall hat, who stands next to the musician, has hidden his hands under a
dark cloak. The cloak is old and torn, the man himself is not shaved, and his hat is obviously not
of his size. This hat, a cylinder – an attribute of the privileged part of society – clearly does not
belong to him. In addition, his two boots seem different, and, most likely, also belonged to other
people. An elderly man with a cane, on the far right, stands out from the rest of the company
with his stately appearance. He stands deep in thought over this scene, composed of a poor
violinist, homeless children – temporary vocalists, and beggars, gathered to listen to music from
the roundabouts. Profound reflection is shown in the old man’s face.
The background of this painting, like much of the detail of its characters, is portrayed
without much care. The ground, the grass, the sky, and the clouds are hastily sketched with spots
of color, brown, green, gray or blue. The upper left-hand corner is framed by grape foliage and a
plain-looking plant in the distance. The central parts of the painting are the most thoroughly
drawn out – the hair, face and violin of the old musician.
The painting’s overall atmosphere can be said to be contained in the heavy attentive
gaze of the old man on the right. Obviously, the canvas was created in order to show the real
state of affairs among the lower class, and to arouse the audience’s sympathy for the cruel plight,
that touched primarily children. There is no sign of embellishment in the painting: even the
young girl turns her head away from the viewer, with shame or disgust. Therefore, the painting
could hardly be intended for exhibits in wealthy homes. Rather, it carries a function in itself,
that of exposing injustice and social vice.

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