Edgar Degas Paintings

Semiramis Building a City

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The beautiful artwork belongs to a collection of historical artworks by Edgar Degas. Some of the other pieces that hold a similar touch to them as Semiramis Building A City include The Crucifixion After Mantegna, Scene Of War In The Middle Ages, and The Cotton Exchange New Orleans.

These stunning artworks illustrate the immense detail Degas was able to incorporate into his work if using a more realist perspective. Edgar Degas is most prominently know for his Impressionism paintings of Parisian ballerinas during the 19th century. His work is often compared to his contemporaries Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, and Edouard Manet. The painting was believed to have been started in the 1860’s, however remained within the artist’s apartment until his death. The painting illustrates the mythological Queen Of Assyria with the founder of Babylon contemplating the construction of the city. As she stands near the river looking into the city, Queen Semiramis is unaware that her work will later go onto constructing one of the seven wonders of the world.

Degas was believed to have done extensive research to create the artwork to be historically correct. Art historians believed that Degas had travelled to the Louvre to study paintings that had recently arrived and depicted the stunning beauty of Queen Semiramis and the city of Assyrian. Some of the elements Degas took in was the style of the chariot, alongside the hairstyle of the Queen. While the painting does have a tad of an Impressionism touch to it, it is overall produced in a neoclassical style. This is evident through the way in which the bodies are portrayed throughout the work. Neoclassical artwork primarily showcases the outline of each figure’s body, rather than bleeding them into one another.

Queen Semiramis stands at the far left of the painting as she looks over the railing while holding in with one arm. The beautiful figure stands in a light blue gown that ties gently around her waist. Her dark hair is slightly shown as it remains covered in a golden crown. The figure stands in an upright position as she looks out over the river analyzing the scene. While it is immensely difficult to make out, upon zooming into her face her eyes slightly frown in concentration of what to do. She is strongly possessed by her throughs as she wonders how to construct the magical city that will go on to become one of The Seven Wonders Of The World. A woman in a bright orange dress stands behind the Queen gently bending down. It is hard to make out what exactly the woman is doing yet looks as if she is bowing. However, while initially looking into the work it seems as if this woman is creeping up on the queen to attack. Another younger woman kneels in the floor behind the queen with a bouquet of flowers.

It seems as if these women are honouring their queen while she’s transfixed by the city. An endless number of other figures fill the background of the scene, yet with no attention drawn to them. A dark brown horse stands near the right attached to the Queens chariot. It is interesting to take note of the architecture throughout the piece. Tall buildings still the background in clean cuts. To the left, the viewer can notice endless frames of buildings that are behind constructed. Yet, the most stunning element of the painting is the grand river that merges with the sunset. Warm and cool colours of pink, yellow, purple, and blue fill the clouds and sky in colour and warmth. This adds the perfect touch to the contemplating Queen looking into the horizon.

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