Brusati Reflection

The picture that caught my eye the most was “The Continence of Scipio” by Karel van Mander. The first thing that I noticed was the deep contrast between the people and the landscape. Whereas the people are dressed in bright colors, the landscape tends to stick to muted bluish-green tones. These vibrant colors instantly catch the eye of the viewer and it’s not until the viewer begins to look at the image more in depth, that they realize the   It’s evident that the artist purposely contradicted the bold, intense colors of the people’s clothing with the dull, eerie colors depicted in the background. The visual dynamic of this image is created partially due to the blatant distinction between the humans and their landscape. One of the most prominent parts of this picture was the aspect of light in the horizon. The horizon in this image looks slightly curved, as it is exemplified by the glowing stream of light which appears to be stretching from the tree on the far right. Brusati writes that the “behavior of light” tends to “transform appearances” such as magnifying and diminishing, darkening or illuminating, and revealing or concealing (918). This path of light accentuates the background of this image, enhancing the mysteriousness of the landscape. The light illuminates the path where the horses are galloping, but leaves the rest of the background seeming even more dark and ghastly. I see one point of perspective and that is at the center of the image, right above the brownish circle and the horses above it. The rest of the image seems to dissolve at this point in a sea of green. This image was also so striking to me because it states that this image symbolizes clemency and restraint. Clemency, also known as mercy or leniency, is very different from restraint, the act of controlling something or someone. This may be why the author chose the significant contrasts in the painting- one side may symbolize clemency, the other may represent restraint.

The Continence of Scipio” by Karel van Mander, 1600,7


2 thoughts on “Brusati Reflection

  1. You’ve intricately examined the different aspects of this landscape, and how the paint informs the viewers perspective. I think that light is one of the most important aspects of these landscapes, and you speak on the effect light has in this. I like how you describe the artists usage of light as “mysterious” and expand on the meaning of “clemency”within the art. The forms and paint-strokes incorporated in the painting, along with the artists color usage, really do give off the effect of mystery described.


  2. This is such an interesting choice of painting – so much is going on here! The entire painting is built on the contrast between the foreground and the background. Light, color, and even flora direct the eye towards the people in the foreground; even the faces of the people – practically picnicking on the trail – face towards the man at the center-left, who I can only assume is Scipio. However, the painting still affords half of its space to the background, in which horsemen trample their way into a city which, indicated by the whisps of smoke in the sky, they seem to be sacking. “Continence” refers to one’s ability to control their stomach. Scipio’s continence allows not only him to tolerate the violence that might make another man spill his lunch. In fact, his continence is so great that, by bringing the focus to him, he enables the contrast of this painting; a panorama of pleasure and suffering, the former supported by the willful ignorance of the latter.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s