The Sacrifice of Iphigenia

Posted: February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized


The Sacrifice of Iphigenia was painted in 1671 by the famous Dutch painter Jan Steen.  This painting was one of the last great pieces before the fall of the Renaissance era.  Although most paintings of this time were different than those of the Italian Renaissance, The Sacrifice of Iphigenia shared similarities with paintings from that past.  Jan Steen utilized depth into the distance and lighting to focus on Iphigenia.  Also, this painting contains lifelike people and shading to make the people appear as though they are living.  These techniques are similar to the Italian Renaissance which was the pinnacle of art.  This famous painting was stolen in World War II by the Nazis who stole valuable artifacts as well as lighting cities in Europe on fire.  After the fall of the Nazis, the painting was then returned to its original owner and is now stationed at the Boston Museum of fine arts.

Jan Steen is reenacting a scene of capture and sacrifice during the battle of Troy.  Iphigenia, who is in the middle of the painting dressed in white, is being sacrificed by her father, Agamemnon, so the Greeks could sail off and fight Troy.  Iphigenia embraces her fate, and understands that the only thing she could control is her heroic response to it.  Agamemnon was a famous military leader, and was the son of the King Atreus.  The light from the background that shines on Iphigenia symbolizes her bravery, and that she is the center of attention in the painting.  The Sacrifice of Iphigenia was the last great piece of the Renaissance era, and symbolizes the bravery and heroism of a young woman doing the best for her nation.


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