When people think of two great painters, Botticelli and Kahlo come to mind. These two painters are known for their incredible artistic skills and the meaning behind their paintings. Botticelli, a male artist, depicts a female in his painting Portrait of a Young Woman. Kahlo’s painting, Portrait with a Necklace and Hummingbird, is a self-portrait. Botticelli’s painting is from the Middle Ages, but Kahlo’s is modern art from the 1940s. Both artists have similar concepts but use different styles and emotions to captivate the viewer. The images symbolize thematic concepts. They also treat a few key elements differently, including the painting’s backgrounds and use of animals, as well as the painting subject’s hair, necklaces, and clothing. The similarities and differences between Botticelli and Kahlo also reveal the socioeconomic status of each.
The paintings both have a background. When analyzing Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Woman, the background is completely black. Having a black background denotes upper class. The black background ensures that Botticelli wanted the young woman to stand out and that viewers would catch important details. Since Botticelli’s subject is indoors, he uses black to enhance the color of the woman’s skin. In the middle ages, pale skin symbolized wealth. Unlike Botticelli, Kahlo’s background was outdoors. One mysterious leaf is yellow, which means that the leaf will soon die. It cannot be retrieved. Kahlo uses the leaf as a symbol representing not only herself, but also her experiences. These experiences also cannot be retrieved. Since she is outside, she is lower class, unlike the upper-class woman that Botticelli painted.
Botticelli does not use animals in his painting; however, the animals in the Kahlo painting are very important. They symbolize Kahlo’s pain in her self-portrait. The black cat on the right side of her shoulder seems to be angry, as if it has the possibility of putting a curse on someone. In Mexican culture, the black cat, which appears behind the woman’s left shoulder, symbolizes bad luck and death. Behind her right shoulder, a monkey is pushing a thorn into her neck, causing her neck to bleed. Kahlo is being strangled by outside forces, signifying that she is pain but is not capable of handling those situations symbolizing that the monkey is the devil (Zurakhinsky).
Botticelli and Kahlo both use hairstyles in their paintings, and they do so in a similar way as they did with their backgrounds. The hairstyles are a significant way of telling if someone was poor or rich. Botticelli and Kahlo both use hair as a theme. It appears as if both painters feature braided hair, but the differences are important. Botticelli paints a flowing, colorful hairstyle that features a red ribbon and numerous jewels coming down from the top part of his subject’s head, in the most detailed part of the painting, again signifying upper-class status. On the other hand, Kahlo does not emphasize her hair. It is short, pinned and hidden, and it is black, the same color as the monkey and the cat. However, Kahlo’s hair does provide a nest for a purple band with two small butterflies. The butterflies symbolize that she was hoping for her life to change (Zurakhinsky).
Botticelli and Kahlo both provide important profile and posture presentations within their paintings. Their subjects are both presented with similar long necks and stiff postures, but the eyebrows and the perspectives relative to the painter are different. In Botticelli’s painting, the woman is presented in profile, looking away from the painter. It would appear as if she had it all, and the only thing that matters is herself. She has very thin eyebrows and no facial hair, for if she had hair, she would not be considered a woman of class. She does not look happy; rather, she looks disgusted and conceited. Since she is wealthy, she is accustomed to having everything done for her. On the other hand, Kahlo presents herself with facial and body hair, for men who kept their facial hair were considered tough, and it appears Kahlo needed to be tough. Thus, she paints herself facing forward, with a defiant look, with a mustache and a unibrow, with a very thick, long neck. She looks weary, perhaps from being outside. Her skin is very tan, and her cheeks are extremely red, possibly from too much sun. Her defiant facial expression may trigger dissatisfaction with what is going on around her.
Botticelli and Kahlo both include necklaces in their paintings, and these necklaces offer interesting thematic differences. For instance, in Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Woman, the color of the necklace is gold and black, with a circular frame depicting Greek gods. The Greek gods are not symbolized towards Botticelli painting, and I believe that the Greek gods is what the artist wanted to symbolize about her. Although, Kahlo necklace has thorns, which looks very uncomfortable to wear. Necklace had an animal attached, it is a dead hummingbird, the hummingbird in the Mexican culture symbolizes to bring good luck for falling in love (Zurakhinsky).
The clothing the women wore signified who was rich and who was poor. The resemblance of these women was they both had dresses. In Botticelli painting the woman had a deep V-neck dress that is blue and white. The dress is handmade with lace on the edges. The woman’s dress was expensive because of all the details on the dress, the fabric and for it to be fitted takes a long time. Such as for Khalo, her dress is a dingy white and with a dash of gray. Kahlo dress did not fit in the right spots and it was cheap because Khalo dress did not take a long time to be made because it was not as detailed as Botticelli dress in the painting.
Botticelli and Kahlo paintings have similarities and differences. The meaning of these two paintings are for the viewer to recognize the major details and find the meaning behind their paintings. The differences from a young woman who is wealthy, and Kahlo is the woman who is poor. These two paintings can describe their emotions in finding the major details of the painting. In Botticelli painting, the necklace has an image of the Greek gods, is what she wanted to become. Khalo self-portrait of the animals symbolize many things such as evil and good luck. The major details in the paintings, give a better understanding towards the situations they had in life.
Zurakhinsky, Michael. “Frida Kahlo Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works.” The Art Story, Nov. 2012, www.theartstory.org/artist-kahlo-frida-artworks.htm.