Arthas been used for many years to represent women in a numberof ways. The forms of art used by artists to depict the images ofwomen include paintings, drawings, as well as sculptures. The imagesof women in works of art tend to pass certain messages and arerelated to themes that represent the way of life in society. Thispaper will discuss the representation of women four images. Theimages to be discussed include the Venus of Willlendorf, Botticelli`sBirth of Venus, Jean Vermeer`s Woman holding a balance, and PaulaModersohn-Becker`s self-portrait with Camellia.
TheVenus of Willendorf is a sculpture that represents an obese woman ofthe stone-age period. The woman is naked, with the vulva being curvedwell, and this indicates the artist who curved the image possessknowledge about the anatomy of human genitals. With small feet, thewomen is represented without any ankles, and there is a continuouspattern that appears around the head, which is thought to be thewoman’s hair. In this figure, women are represented as huge withthe image showing that women during the stone-age used to have largebody sizes. Over the years, this image has generated controversy withsome people arguing that it is a representation of mother earth. Withthe area around the shoulder appearing as well modelled, it is anindication that women were viewed as sexual beings. This can also beevidenced by the fact that the women in the image is naked and hervulva is clearly exposed in the image. It implies that the societyused to value women as sexual images and the portrait had to appearthe way it is so that it could have attracted men (Robin et al,2007).
TheVenus of Willendorf is a depiction of the life of women during theice age. As it can be seen from the image, the body size of the womanand the organs exposed by the image shows that fertility and fatnesswas highly valued during this period. In this era, the parts of awoman body that had a lot of importance related to the issue ofreproduction. This explains why body parts such as the pelvic girdleand breasts are given a lot of attention in the sculpture (Robin etal, 2007).
TheBirth of Venus, a famous painting by Botticelli, is a representationof Venus, the goddess of love. The goddess is represented as a womenwho can be regarded as fully mature who has emanated from a seashell.The painting was made during the classical period, when the seashellwas used to represent the female genitals. Therefore, this image wasfocusing on the birth of the goddess. The “Birth of Venus” isused as an illustration to portray the beauty of women. Thesignificance of women beauty in this image derives from thefact that the goddess is represented as nude, a phenomenon that wasrare during the period when the painting was made. From thispainting, it is evident that women were expected to be beautiful andappealing. It is their beauty that attracted the attention of men andthe society at large (Robin et al, 2007).
Withthe torrent hair of the woman in the image and her long neck, themystifying figure of woman is created in the painting. One cannotafford to ignore staring at the image and it is the unique featuresthat make it outstanding and appealing to the human eye. Theappealing nature of the image should be present in any woman. Boththe Venus of Wilendorf and the Birth of Venus can be compared sincethey depict the theme of giving birth. From the two images, it isevident that women`s role in the society is invaluablesince they are the source of life (Robin et al, 2007).
Theimage of “Woman holding a balance” represents Vermeer’s notionof rhythm, as well as stability in art. In the image, there is aportrait of a woman who is standing in the corner of a certain roomand she is dressed in a jacket that is blue in color and has somefur. There is light coming from the window, which illuminates thepainting and makes it appear attractive. The painted women appearssomehow pensive and this makes the viewer hesitant to intrude herprivacy as she seems to contemplate on something. The woman isrepresented as holy and faithful and the image shows that women,before making any decisions, had to weigh the consequences of theiractions and decide the right course of action to take. In addition,the painting depicts women as people who make choices that arevirtuous as they avoid hurting others. As the woman holds a balance,it indicates that women do not just make choices, but haveto evaluate whether their choices will have any benefits (Robin etal, 2007).
Fromthe painting, it is evident that women used to conduct theiractivities by being moderate and at the same tome consideringtemperance. Although the woman in the image has the access to earthlythings such as gold and other treasures, she is reminded of theconsequences that her actions can have. As such, she is careful notto cross the line and do the unexpected, but rather takes a lot ofcare in order to appear moral and ethical in all situations (Robin etal, 2007).
Inthe self-portrait with Camellia, Paula depicts her image as a womanwith the aim of depicting her appealing physical looks and appearancefor her audience to see. In the image, her head has been slightlytitled and this depicts her frontal look in the portrait. With herupper body appearing weighty, her head also seems to occupy a centralposition in the image. The strong and dominant physical appearance ofthe woman in the image is depicted by the fact that her picture seemsto have taken over the entire frame of the picture. This helps toportray the important features of a woman that depict her looks. Inthe portrait, the female figure is portrayed as appealing andattractive. Just like the women are represented in other images,Paula aims at ensuring that she attracts undivided attention from thepeople who view her image (Robin et al, 2007).
Althoughthe images have some similarities in their appearance, there are alsosome differences that are evident in the way the images appear.First, the visual appeal of the images tends to differ significantly.While some images have been painted and sculptured brightly, thereare those that appear to be somehow dark and not as appealing as thebright ones. Another difference in the images emanates from theirsize. While the women of wilendorf represents a huge and fat woman,the other portraits seem to depict women of smaller sizes. Therefore,no matter the body size, women will always attractattention in the society.
Robin,D., Larsen, A. R., & Levin, C. (2007). Encyclopediaof women in the Renaissance: Italy, France, and England.Santa Barbara, California: ABC CLIO.