A Look at Georg Friedrich Kersting's Man Reading

Essay by NickersA-, February 2008

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Kersting uses a variety of artistic techniques in his illustration of Man Reading, which displays the usage of confations where portraiture and genre are combined.

The most striking elements of this painting are the usage of light and wide tonal range. The skilful use of light draws us to the principal object, the lamp, which projects its soft candlelight, highlighting the cool muted hint of green on the wall. Kersting manipulates light and shade through gradual transition to form the illusion of plasticity.

Immediately the eye is drawn to the lamp. The artist has obtained this effect by several techniques. The first is the usage of light as this is the brightest area within the pictorial plane. Secondly, it appears to be the vanishing point. This is found by following the lines of perspective from the shelving of the furniture and the lines on the pattern of the carpet. By examining the angles of the boxes to the right, the horizon line is clearly seen, which is just under the lamp.

The majority of the illustration takes on the form of either horizontals or verticals such as: the furniture, pattern on the carpet, even the figure that is set back from the picture plane is arranged by using lines.

Moving on, the ceiling and floor are both visible, which draws the viewer into the scene and increases the claustrophobic feel of the room. The angle of vision is set towards the lamp. The effect of this draws the viewer into the scene giving the impression of actually standing at a doorway to the left of the painting.

The fine brushwork picks up detail, such as: creases and folds in the curtain and clothing, the expression upon the figure’s face—concentration.

Overall Kersting portrays a piece of a harmony and tranquillity, which would have been kept for his private usage.

309 WordsBibliography‘An Introduction to the Humanities: Form and Reading: Block One’ (2005) Milton Keynes, The Open University.

‘An Introduction to the Humanities: Resource Book 1’ (2005) Milton Keynes, The Open University.

‘An Introduction to the Humanities: Illustration Book’