Fallen Comrade: Nazi Propaganda, 1933 (OPTICC 5)

Depicted with combed hair, clean and innocent faces, and chiseled jaws, this propaganda art makes the audience believe that the soldier depicted were fighting for the right cause. This piece embodies the style and message of most propaganda during World War II, especially throughout Germany and the Soviet union. A German soldier, holding a Nazi flag, looks down solemnly at his fellow soldier lying dead, who is looking up triumphantly at the painted red and purple skies.

The color of the skies may resemble the violence of warfare, which was a magnificent theme during this time, or it could be a symbol for the mourning of this particular death of the Nazi soldier. Obviously, this symbolism is meant to encourage sympathy for Nazi soldiers at war, and imply the message that the Nazis were the victims. The majority of propaganda at this time was to encourage German citizens, along with the citizens of countries aligned with Germany, that the Nazis were “The Good Guys.” The standing soldier is looking down solemnly, but still stands strongly, gripping the Nazi flag, perhaps “for support.” The soldier on the ground looks up with his mouth agape, looking peaceful and not at all in pain. This is a message to the audience that he died knowing it was for a good cause- satisfied with his own death. In reality, any death at war would most likely be a painful one.

Similar to many other aspects of this piece, this Nazi propaganda resembles the other propaganda of this time in that it does not come with a title. Perhaps when it was made and displayed, it held a title, but as it moved through books and archives, that became irrelevant to the meaning. Most Nazi propaganda titles were probably identical, and unimportant to the message to the audience. This was because the real message was either depicted in the art, or in words over the art. For example, another piece like this may have had the words (in German), “Stand with our nation, fight with our nation, die for our nation,” written in the sky. The actual caption from the archive is: “Here a Nazi looks down on a fallen comrade.” This could be a title, but it is not persuasive, and therefore would not have been used as a title during the Holocaust.

The message of this piece is that the Nazi’s are good people, experiencing pain and sadness, and standing strong through it “for the good of Germany.” This particular propaganda was showing the people of Germany that the Nazis who were creating and enforcing the extreme circumstances of World War II were experiencing sorrow, and that they were not to blame. It is influencing Germans to support the Nazi’s, to make sure that the “fallen comrade” is not forgotten, and to make sure that the Nazi’s were victorious.

This is within the context of World War II, wherein governments relied on propaganda to force their people to accept circumstances that were morally unacceptable. The Germans were persuaded to support Hitler through extreme propaganda, portraying Jewish people as terrible people, and essentially “the enemy.” Russians were persuaded to be prideful of the harsh circumstances of their communism and the militarism of Stalin’s rule. Japanese people were convinced that all other Asians were a subspecies, or animals, and deserved to be experimented on, disregarded concerning feelings, controlled, and murdered. Germans were desperately trying to take over Europe, and perhaps eventually the world. In order to do so, they needed the absolute support of their own citizens.

Painted with perfect features in front of a mourning sky, with sorrowful and perseverant expressions, this piece of propaganda art is a perfect representation of how the harsh governments such as Japan, Russia, and Germany, maintained support during World War II. When studying this war, it is important to acknowledge the manipulation of media that happened to sustain control over the people.


OPTICC 4: Princesse de Broglie

In this painting Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn is posing in a large and elaborate blue and lace gown. This wealthy woman is leaning against a gold satin chair which has a gold embroidered white shawl draped over it. She has her hair up, with expensive white and gold jewelry on, and a small smile on her face.

Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn was a princess, and her large amount of wealth is made apparent by the artist highlighting her clearly expensive gold, enamel and pearl jewelry. In addition, her importance is emphasized by the fact that she is wearing a very expensive ball gown and is leaning on a chair with a shawl which both have excessive detail and lots of gold. Her only visible hand wears what seems to be a colorful wedding ring.

The title of this painting, Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn, Princesse de Broglie (1825–1860), is not artistic in any way. However, the title gives a lot of information about the subject of the painting. The artist, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (French, Montauban 1780–1867 Paris), was a significantly famous artist in France during the 1800’s. The title shows that the subject of this painting was a very well connected and significant figure, and that she was a princess of France, so it is inevitable that a famous artist such as Jean Auguste paint her portrait.

Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn, Princesse de Broglie (1825–1860) is a painting meant to display the wealth and glory of this very powerful woman. She is surrounded and clothed in her most expensive belongs with a lazy and content smile that almost looks condescending. During this time many wealthy people had portraits of themselves painted so that they could be remembered as successful and handsome. Although Jean Auguste was a renowned artist during the nineteenth century, this particular painting has no artistic or deeper meaning other than the clear shyness and power of the Princess.

Pauline de Broglie was the wife of Albert de Broglie, who served multiple terms as the Prime Minister of France, when Prime Ministers in France has just become the powerful government figures. Also, this was soon after the French Revolution where the French tried and failed to implement other types of government. This explains the massive amounts of wealth displayed in the painting, and the overall importance of this piece of art in the 1800’s. During this time, there was also an Impressionist movement in art (depicting the impression of the scene on the artist), followed by a Post- Impressionist movement.

In conclusion, this is a style of painting that was used to paint portraits of many wealthy and important figures, usually government officials, surrounded by and wearing their finest possessions. This is the case in Joséphine-Éléonore-Marie-Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn, Princesse de Broglie (1825–1860), displayed in her glory and beauty by the famous Jean Auguste during a time of great artistic and political development in France.

OPTICC 3: Fire in Borgo

This painting depicts the scene of the chaos during a fire in the Renaissance. The far left of the painting shows the origin of the chaos, only revealing a small scene of the fire, mostly covered by a large wall that people are climbing over to escape the fire, focusing the attention of the audience on the varying characters. Citizens are running around in colorful robes, there are people fetching water, mothers herding their children, and people helping strangers out of the fire, with pillars and powerful buildings in the background.

The intricately carved and designed arch that the whole scene takes place under seems to be of importance to the time period, the meaning or the artist. Each character seems to hold a lot of importance when focused upon; A strong man with minimal robes is carrying a skinny, sickly looking man with a red hat on. There is also a strong looking and gleamingly white man climbing down the wall, clearly escaping from the fire. Through observing other characters in the painting, the audience can assume that the artist is implying people in the fire were mostly wearing white robes which were mostly burned off, and the other citizens are wearing very colorful robes. The people are also very realistically depicted, a consistent development in art during the Renaissance, due to advances in knowledge of human anatomy.

The title is, “Fire in Borgo.” The title implies that this painting portrays a significant event, and that people at the time most likely knew about this fire to appreciate the artistic depiction of it. This title also confirms that the meaning of the painting is literally about a fire that happened and the chaos that followed. Whereas without this title, it could be interpreted as a metaphor for political fragmentation, social destruction, or another cause for chaos.

Historical background research has revealed that this painting was painted for the sole purpose of being one of the many paintings on the walls of a dining room for the Pope. The paintings on these walls all told stories taken from the lives of two previous Popes. One of which, Leo IV, heroically extinguished this fire, saving the citizens and the church.

With that background, the meaning is more easily interpreted. This painting was made to honor Leo IV as a previous Pope in an artistically beautiful and meaningful painting. Perhaps a deeper meaning is that this event is a metaphor for multiple instances in which Leo IV- or more broadly, the Popes of the Renaissance- saved the people and the church from disasters.

This is important to what we are learning right now because it shows how valued the Popes were during the Renaissance. “Fire in Borgo,” is a great representation of the artistic skill and development of the Renaissance, with more realistic human depictions and direct meanings. It could be interpreted to honor a specific Pope for a specific event, or it could represent the Popes of the Renaissance acting as a healing force for the church and its people.

Miniature from a Compendium of Saints’ Lives: Saint Catherine of Alexandria Disputing with the Fifty Philosophers, c. 1200-1210

This piece of art depicts Saint Catherine of Alexandria convincing philosophers to follow Christianity, after the Roman emperor Maxentius tried to use pagan philosophers to makeOPTICC 2 the princess renounce her faith. Saint Catherine sits in blue, gold, and green robes, holding a bible in one hand and pointing accusingly at the philosophers with the other. She is on the right side of the painting, facing Maxentius and the philosophers as they are all bunched together facing her. Maxentius holds his left glove in his right hand in a superior posture. There is what appears to be an angel coming down from a cloud and towards Saint Catherine’s head, seemingly guiding her discussion. The emperor and princess wear crowns and all of the philosophers wear pointed hats, signifying the superiority of the royalty and the wisdom of the philosophers.

The title Miniature from a Compendium of Saints’ Lives: Saint Catherine of Alexandria Disputing with the Fifty Philosophers is suggesting that the discussion shown is of historical importance. It implies that there are fifty philosophers, when only five are represented: perhaps each shown is meant to represent ten, or it is implied that the other philosophers are behind those shown and could not fit into the frame. Saint Catherine was famous for convincing people of Christianity who opposed her, so this is quite a good representation of her life.

The message in this painting is that Saints have a direct connection with god, which they use to convince unbelievers. The level of each character portrays that the emperor, the saint, and the philosophers are all of equal status and respect. Saint Catherine seems to be lecturing the philosophers, who hold their hands in a way that shows reason. Nonetheless, she is portrayed as harmless and superior to the others because her robes are covering her feet, a sign of higher class. Saint Catherine’s hair is tied up, representing marriage, however historically, she went her whole life unmarried.

At this time, there was a conflict between religion and political structure. There was endorsement between the popes and kings, however the investiture controversy was between the popes and emperors. Many emperors were attempting to make saints renounce their faiths, and Saint Catherine often convinced philosophers and emperors to follow Christianity. There was a lot of respect for religious figures and intellectuals such as philosophers and scholars.

In conclusion, this painting is meant to represent the investiture controversy and show a significant debate in history, portraying Saint Catherine as dominant and superior. Maxentius is shown as concerned and pensive, and the philosophers deep in thought and discussion. Miniature from a Compendium of Saints’ Lives: Saint Catherine of Alexandria Disputing with the Fifty Philosophers is a rather accurate portrayal of this historical moment, and there is much to learn from its depiction.

Lotiform Cup

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This is a piece of pottery, beautifully shaped into a glazed blue cup. There are carvings on the side of the cup that show ancient Egyptians with animals, seemingly domesticating them. The cup curves out at the top and rounds at the bottom with another protrusion at the base to hold the cup up. There are leaf- looking carvings at the base of the cup, that portrays a flower growing around the bottom of the cup.

One of the depictions carved into the cup seems to be portraying a man forcefully separating two animals, which seem to be some sort of oxen or sheep. There is a strip of swimming fish around the cup near the bottom, as well as a strip of a zigzag pattern, which both appear to be for design purposes.

The title of this piece is “Lotiform Cup,” which indicates that the leaf- looking design at the bottom symbolizes a lotus flower. It may be called “Lotiform” as a combination of “lotus” and “cuneiform,” as in the carvings of the cup. The description mentions that the water lily was valued during ancient Egypt because it opened its petals each morning to the sun, so it was a symbol of recreation and rebirth.

“Lotiform Cup” falls into history during the Third Intermediate Period, when chalices like this were carved with “relief scenes,” which caused myths to arise of the, “birth of the king as child of the sun god out of the watery marsh environment, and thus the renewal of the world out of the flooded land of each midsummer New Year.” This means that the involvement of animals in this carving of the cup is relevant perhaps to the symbolism of rebirth to the blue water lily, which is of main importance on the cup. The fish and animals may symbolize the flooding of the land each midsummer New Year, which brought crops and animals, and was a renewal of life for the Egyptians.

During the Third Intermediate Period, there was a weakening of centralized power because it began after the death of a prominent ruler, Ramesses XI. Power was passed around, and there were not many major structures built. There was great technological advancement with bronze, and the statuary of temples, gods, and kings thrived. This was a time of political aspiration, social identification, and artistic production in ancient Egypt. This can all be seen in the artistic achievement shown within the craft of this cup, and the person that shows dominance over the animals may represent the dominance of humans over the land.
With all background knowledge, I can conclude that this “Lotiform Cup” is symbolic of renewal of life and aspirations for success. The true meaning has to do with a human’s interaction with nature, and the Egyptian society gaining control over their politics and social statuses. It shows celebration and revival.