Rhetoric in Art

Studying and becoming part of Italy’s history for the last few weeks has undoubtedly brought about my new appreciation and interest in all forms of art- their paintings, architecture, music, fashion, etc. Last class, I found one certain point of the discussion to be very endearing and made me question multiple famous works of art we have seen this trip. Does rhetoric have a presence in art? My smaller group and most of the class believed yes, of course there is rhetoric in art, proved by the pieces we have seen in museums scattered around the city.

Famous artists throughout history used their projects and masterpieces to express their opinions or views on certain events and people. For example, as we walked through the Accademia Gallery, Isabelle pointed out how Mary was depicted in multiple ways in accordance to what the artists thought of Mary and how they wanted others to see her. In the earlier paintings, Mary did not have many relatable features, such as bone or body structure. This technique the artist purposely worked upon ensured that the public could not look at Mary and see themselves within her. The artist wanted his audience to think of Mary as someone higher than them, someone that is so extraordinary, that no average person can relate to her.

However, as time went on, Italy was more open to presenting Mary as a more human-like figure. In later paintings by artists, Mary had breasts, body shape, and more realistic facial features. This is a strong form of rhetoric because the artists are manipulating how their audience sees Mary in hopes of influencing their opinions and beliefs.



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