Essay on Travel to Philadelphia Museum of Art

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Harvey Mudd College
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I am in the city of Philadelphia at the Museum of Art experiencing European masterworks and a century of inspiration, discoveries and seeing the Old Masters in a new light. The Old Masters artwork I am viewing shows the Antonello da Messinas Portrait of a Young Gentleman who was an Italian, first securely documented 1456, died 1479. This artwork was brought from Italy in 1917 by John G. Johnson, the most famous lawyer of his day. He left his astonishing trove of European art to the city of Philadelphia. It is necessary to travel to Italy to discover other great European works from Johnson collections and gather stories the pieces tell from the portraits and why John was selective. This will detail the significance of the portrait and its character. The old masterpieces tell an ancient story that could be used to challenge our daily endeavors. The portrait of the young gentleman gives the impression of youthful leadership and decency. From Philadelphia to Milan, Italy a direct flight would cost $857. I have checked in at Le Meridien Philadelphia where I will be spending my night for $134. The original work for the old master's portrait is antique and rare to come across as they age more than two centuries. However, the exhibition in Philadelphia will begin on Nov 3 on January 18th, 2017.


Philadelphia is Pennsylvanias largest city notable for its rich history, the display at the Liberty Bell and other American revolutionary sights. It has the sixth largest population. It is home to various culinary institutions; the central food cuisines are cheesesteak, steaks, Soft pretzels and Irish potato candy. In Philadelphia, you can give pretty much anything by walking. Start your trip to the city by visiting Independence National Historical Park and get to know all about American history. Philadelphia has diversified culture from Hollywood movies, performing arts, music, annual festivals and events including the famous mummers parade. The city has an Appalachian mountain to the western side as well as the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern side. The climate is moderate, and it eliminates extreme hot and cold weather.

Media and Materials

The material used in work is in print format. The art was painted and water colored on canvass to create an impression and more importantly printed digitally. It has a massive frame with an up-close shot; it has an antique feel that creates the feeling of originality. The texture is silent and smooth with the bristles finely retouched. The artist has combed transparent and opaque colors for rich illusion, to remove the shadows thus making the portrait sharper. The artist choice of drawing is rapid and should be understood in the context of draftsmans intention.

Period or Style

The piece of art was signed and dated 1474 reflecting Antonellos knowledge of Flemish painting. Between 1456 and 1457, Antonello became a master painter in Messina where he set up a workshop for the production of banners and devotional images. He was offered an opportunity to become the court portrait painter in Millan but never accepted. Antonello's pieces of art grew widely in Millan, before spreading to Venice after his relocation in 1476. His style is remarkable for its union of Italian simplicity, and indeed the artist was a significant influence on other Italian paintings.

Description of the artwork

The subject matter in the artwork is its psychological penetration of the character where the sitter could emerge from the dark background having his face only lit on a 2D dimension. The sitters face being lit in the dark background is also one of the elements the artist wanted his artwork to be emphasized on. The dark color is used to show how someone is capable of penetrating and become successful despite the challenge one may be faced with. The light face demonstrates the success even in any difficult situation. Therefore, these elements can clearly reflect on the primary subject matter of psychological penetration where an individual can be successful despite the various challenges one faces.

Artist Biography

Antonello da Messina was born at around 1429-1431at Messina and died in 1979. In his professional life and activities, his style was remarkable for its union of the Italian straightforwardness with a lot of Flemish concern for much detail and description. He is also recognized for the introduction of the Flemish invention as well as the communication of Flemish tendencies. Similarly, it is evident that the artist never had a formal education as he was self-taught while he was in Naples. It is also noted that he went to enjoy the licentious pleasures of the city of Venice. The painting was inspired by both the Flemish handling of the subject as well as by his master Colantonio (Lowry 4)

Compare and Contrast Outside Influences

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most recognized artists during this period who has used different elements including color in his paintings to demonstrate the subject matter. His use of various materials in his paintings has significantly influenced my artists decision to use the same materials. Maurice de Vlamincks painting, The River Seine at Chatou, was responsible for revolutionizing the Fauve movement which was a modern group of artists who were united in their integration of color in their artwork. This is indeed similar to the Antonello da Messinas Portrait of a Young Gentleman which also focused on the use of color in the artwork.


It is factual that the artwork is owned by the museum which is located in the city of Philadelphia. I learned that the importance of collectivism, a culture which was highly evident when I was related or communicating with the city residents including the museum staffs. I would make the trip a bit different and unique when I return for the next trip by having a glimpse of other paintings or artworks of various artists.

Works Cited

Art, Philadelphia Museum of. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia Museum of Art,

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Lowry, Bates, and Isabel Lowry. The Silver Canvas: Daguerreotype Masterpieces from the J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles: The Museum, 1998. Print.

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Top of Form

Tobin, Thomas J. Worldwide Pre-Raphaelitism. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005. Print.

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