Compare and contrast two selected artworks with reference to the following question:
What can these two artworks tell us about cultural difference?
Choose one of the following artwork pairings – Pair A or Pair B – each of which includes an artwork you studied in Block 2 and one from the Block 5
1. First, provide details of the two artworks that you have chosen to focus on for your EMA. Briefly explain why you chose each work and how it relates to the theme of the EMA question.
Artwork from Block 2, Unit 1 or Block 2, Unit 2
The artwork I have chosen from Block 2, Unit 1 is Figure 42, Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, Queen Elizabeth I (‘The Ditchley Portrait’), c. 1592, oil on canvas. I have chosen this wonderful example of Elizabethan propaganda because of how similar it is a priori to the one described below, however, the differences are just as striking as the resemblance, turning this portrait into the best possible choice of visual artwork to explore cultural differences between Europe and Asia and how art and cultures travelled between territories.
Artwork from the Block 5 archive
I have chosen pair A: Abu’l-Hasan (attributed), Jahangir Shooting the Head of Malik Ambar, c. 1616, opaque watercolour, ink and gold on paper. This is a set portrait from pair A and it has influenced the choice of the portrait above. The reasoning behind this choice as opposed to pair B is that it offers a clear opportunity to explore the concept of cultural difference.
2. How will you engage with the theme set in your essay? Answer with reference to the visual features, subject matter, medium and/or other factors of your chosen artworks.
I will be analysing the clothes the sitters wear, the setting that was chosen for the painting, the allegories present in both works of art, the pose of the sitters, as well as the inscriptions present in both pieces. The two artworks chosen are a good opportunity to explore the cultural differences and similarities in how rules chose to be represented. I will be taking into account the format as well, as the size of these paintings is also quite different and this offers a hint as to how the two artworks might be used, and by whom. For example, The Ditchley Portrait might have been seen hanging in a great hall and might have been used to show the good relationship between the Monarch and Sir Henry Lee, whereas the miniature attributed to Abu’l Hasan may have been used to circulate and be exchanged. By looking at this pair of portraits we can understand what was important to each ruler and we can learn a lot about their individual style, as well as the type of reign for which they wanted to be remembered.
3. How do you propose to make an argument that answers the question set?
By comparing and contrasting the two portraits, identifying them and describing them briefly, analysing the technique to then highlight the differences and similarities to draw conclusions relating to their historical context, art style and influences and how these portraits influenced posterior works. It is an excellent example for this essay question, as the sitters are depicted in a way that conveys their power in a manner that is clear to the viewer, however, the smaller details in these two paintings give away important information related to how these two rulers wanted to be perceived by their subjects and perhaps, also by foreign monarchs and territories. Focusing on the differences and similarities between the two portraits and analysing the possible reasons for them. I will explore the manner in which these two cultures could have influenced each other as well as whether one had a more prominent influence on the other, and the religious and political implications that these may suggest.
Part 2: Planning ahead
4. Which primary sources will you engage with in your EMA and why? You should list at least two sources here, and at least one of these should be written. Include complete bibliographical references from the closed archive.
2. Dee, J. (1570) Preface to Euclid’s ‘Elements of Geometrie’ Source: Brotton, J. (1997) Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World. London: Reaktion Books, pp. 20 While, some, to beautifie their Halls, Parlers, Chambers, Galeries, Studies, or Libraries with; other some, for things past, as battles fought, earthquakes, heavenly firings, and such occurrences in histories mentioned: thereby lively as it were to view the place, the region adjoining, the distance from us, and other such circumstances: some other, presently to vewe the large dominion of the Turke: the wide Empire of the Moschovite … Some, either for their owne jorneyes directing into farre landes: or to understand of other mens travailes. To conclude, some, for one purpose: and some, for an other, liketh, loveth, getteth, and useth, Mappes, Chartes, and Geographicall Globes. This primary source is an account that provides an insight into the importance of all the background components in each picture and the purpose of the representations, such as the victory over Malik Ambar in the miniature portraying Jahangir standing on a globe in the centre of the painting.
5. Which secondary sources do you plan to engage with in your EMA? You should list at least two sources here. Don’t worry if you have not explored these fully yet.
1. Mughal Occidentalism : Artistic Encounters Between Europe and Asia at the Courts of India, 1580-1630 This secondary source offers a good account of the cultural transference between Europe and Asia and it is decidedly relevant to the portraits chosen for this assignment. It will enable me to understand how the similarities came to be and the reasons for the disparities and whether those are intentional or not. 2. Conceit of the Globe in Mughal Visual Practice Ramaswamy, S. (2007). Conceit of the Globe in Mughal Visual Practice. Comparative Studies in Society and History,49(4), 751-782. doi:10.1017/S0010417507000758 This secondary source will be most useful to explore the use of maps and globes as a way to convey a monarch’s power over the territories they ruled over. This practice is a focal point in both paintings and will provide useful information to understand how cartography was regarded in the early seventeenth century and used by rulers to convey power. Brotton, J. 1997) Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World. London: Reaktion Books. Pages 17–27 provide the first part of the introduction to the book and outline the role of the globe (and maps more generally) in European culture in the early modern period.
Is there any other source or material that you plan to look at, beyond the archive?
I will be using the module materials and the information available on the National Portrait Gallery website as well as The MET Museum website.