Giovanni Paolo Panini was born in 1692, in Piacenza. He first started off his training from a stage designer, after that he moved to Rome where he specialized in decorations and began to study drawing. Panini started to receive recognition after joining the Congregazione dei Virtuosi al Pantheon and the Accademia di San Luca. Soon enough Panini was painting frescoes for essential people, for an example painting for the Pope was one of Panini’s projects. The Interior of Saint Peter’s was only one of many paintings Panini had done.
Giovanni Paolo Panini painted the Interior of Saint Peter’s with oil; the picture plane, which is a flat surface where the artist implements his image on, is a plain canvas. The dimensions of the canvas is (74 x 99. 7 cm), Panini used a canvas which had more height than width due to the fact that the Interior of Saint Peter’s contained high domed ceilings, he uses this canvas to his advantage in portraying the domed ceiling along with the arched columns. The smart choice in the dimensions of the canvas comes to no surprise due to the fact that Panini specialized in architectural paintings.
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He angles the perception of the painting to show the enormous size of the building. It is easy to see the distance between where the viewpoint of the painting is to the far end of the structure. You can also tell that the building was massive by observing the people Panini painted into the picture. If you notice everyone is painted as if they were nothing but ants from this distance in the building. This truly brings out the size of the building and allows the viewer to acknowledge that indeed this is a big structure. From this point of view the painting seems to be in the two dimensional world.
The color in the painting allows the viewer to see the vast decorations on the columns, ceiling, and you clearly see the structure in the back of the painting, yet it is not as clear as the closer objects, which shows us this “real“image of the viewpoint. Panini uses colors to distinguish between where one decoration ends and another begins. For example, look at the decorations on the columns, you can clearly see where they begin and end, such detail of the color has been put into this piece of art and that detail allows the viewer to understand the beauty of the scene.
You can see on the left side of the painting that the light is shining in from the windows and into the scene; this allows the viewer to understand that if they were there most of the inside would be in shade. There is also a man wearing red in the middle of the scene who seems to be kneeling and praying. The red colored clothes of this man stick out perfectly compared to the surroundings, making it clear that we should not overlook this man; maybe Panini had a meaning to why this man was kneeling and why he wanted the viewer to notice it. Panini also uses volume to show the height and width of the columns.
From where the scene is being viewed from the columns are shown from two sides. One side of the column, the side with three figure looking designs on it, seems to be facing towards what might be the entrance and the other side is facing the main hall, where the man in the red is kneeling. This view gives the columns somewhat depth and solidifies them, because you can almost perfectly get the idea of how huge and enormous the columns are. The balance in the painting seems to be perfect when it comes to the equality of weight and accomplishing unity.
However, Panini has somewhat given certain things more attention than others in the painting. There is still unity the painting comes together well, yet there are still things like the man in the red kneeling or the woman in the pink in the right hand side. Objects like that seem to have more attention grabbing characteristics than others. Panini has put most of the crowd towards the right next to the columns and left more empty space in the middle which makes certain objects, like the man kneeling, stick out more.
As before you can clearly that there is plethora of space in between the people in the hall. It is easy to perceive in how much space there actually is in between everyone due to the fact that proportionally the painting makes sense. The people in the hall are the perfect size, the structure is a perfect size, everything sings in harmony which allows the viewer to perceive space in a rational manner, so the space between two people in the hall would seem more real than if the painting was not proportionally correct.
Panini’s style seems to be simple if you look at the manner of what he paints. He was known for specializing in architectural views; Panini painted many pictures of Saint Peter’s. Yet, his style seems to be somewhat more in depth than just architectural views, Panini seems to sneak in a few things that may or may not have meaning to them. For example, at the top right of the painting in between the arch of the first column there seems to be a figure of a person as if he were sneaking around.
Also lets not forget the figure kneeling in the middle of the hall, it was not coincidence that this person sticks out more than the rest of the people, there is probably a meaning behind this that only Panini could explain, or maybe he left it to the viewer to come up with a meaning for themselves. Panini shows the detail of the decorations in a realistic manner, in a way that a viewer can see the details yet at the same time if the object or decorations are far from the point of view they blur a little, giving it a more rational tone.
This rational tone can be considered atmospheric perspective, which means the painter is trying to show a realistic view by allowing far away objects to blur a little and for closer objects to be strong and contrast. Panini did a great showing atmospheric perspective because if you look at the flags on the ceiling, you can clearly see the closest one to the viewer which is the one on the top right, and the top left one is slanted but still more clear than the one behind it, same goes for the top right one it is much more clear if you compare it to the flag behind it which is farther from the viewer.
Panini uses this on the columns and its decorations as well, the farthest column’s decorations are almost impossible to see where as the closest column’s decorations are the clearest. Giovanni Paolo Panini’s, Interior of Saint Peter’s is a great example of perfect artwork. Panini uses the elements of composition and the principles of organization to create beautiful art. Though beauty is subjective, it is hard to say that this painting is nothing less than that.
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