The painting Kindred Spirits, painted in 1849 reflects Romanticism whereas the painting The Gross Clinic reflects Realism. In this paper we will analyze these two paintings and focus on the differences in ideas and attitudes expressed through the paintings. Differences The painting Kindred Spirits reflects the period of Romanticism during which the emphasis was placed on the depiction of feral nature in paintings. In this painting, Asher Durand has captured a rich and vibrant natural landscape.
Although the painting depicts Thomas Cole and William Cullen Bryant, the natural landscape is more prominent in the painting. The natural features like Catskill Mountains, the Fawns Leap and the Kaaterskill Falls are incorporated in the landscape. Durand has removed himself from the painting and decided to include Cole whom he wanted to honor through his painting. But the one of the major characteristics of Durands landscape paintings is visible in this painting also and that is depiction of harmonious nature.
Durands landscapes almost always move toward harmony, and he located his own vision of landscape solidly within the aesthetic category of the beautiful, as this term was understood in the nineteenth century. (PecK). The minute details of nature are highlighted by Durand. The depiction of a real landscape points out that Durand wished to bring forth a realist image of the nature rather than an idealized one where an imaginary landscape is depicted in a painting. The aesthetic beauty of nature is revered and admired by Durand.
The painting The Gross Clinic presents a view which differs vastly from Romanticism. Being a realist painting, The Gross Clinic depicts a surgical theater where a surgery is being carried. A real event of surgery is depicted on the canvas, in spite of the fact that the scene was horrific. Through this painting, Eakins presents the reality of life in an audacious manner. The realist attitude of Eakins towards life is portrayed through his painting. The conditions in which a surgery was performed during the nineteenth century are presented in the painting.
The painting Kindred Spirits provides a beautiful view of nature which is pleasant and soothing whereas the painting The Gross Clinic disturbs the mind of the looker. Eakins was more interested in the events that occurred in real life and he insisted on capturing those events in a realistic way. His painting The Gross Clinic is one such painting that focuses on a real event which is painful and disturbing but necessary to understand the life of that period. The atmosphere in a surgical theater, the naked human body and a distressed woman provide a grim but real picture of life.
The display of nudity which prevailed in late Nineteenth Century is included in this painting in form of the naked human body upon which surgery is being performed. The pleasing beauty of nature, which is represented in the painting Kindred Spirits, contrasts with the horrifying depiction of a surgery in The Gross Clinic.
Peck, Daniel. Unlikely Kindred Spirits: A New Vision of Landscape in the Works of Henry David Thoreau and Asher B. Durand. American Literary History. 17:4(2005) 687-713. http://alh. oxfordjournals. org/cgi/content/ful