The Ideal Face of Beauty in European Art, 16th Century: The Night Cafe

We are bombarded by beauty in every part of our life. We see beauty in nature, people, and even objects. Beauty is frequently defined as a subjective feature of such objects, which makes these objects enjoyable to perceive. These objects include sunsets, nature, humans, and works of art in the form of paintings or sculptures. Beauty, along with beauty, is the most important theme of aesthetics, among the major branches of modern philosophy.

Modern art historians have categorized different types of aesthetic beauty as fine art, visual arts and architecture, and beauty movements. Art historians have traced the development of aesthetic beauty through the centuries, commenting on the popularity of certain figures, themes or forms of architecture, and the relative importance of women in society, as portrayed in the art of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and other Mediterranean civilizations. The Greek word for beauty was ‘akolas’, that could mean ‘beautiful face’, ‘handsomeness’ or ‘matrimony’. It was later translated into English as ‘beauty’ and became the most common word for artistic beauty throughout European history.

In the works of artists like Titian, Rembrandt, Manet and Monet, the appearance of beauty is seen as a symbol of societal status. For example, Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Cafe, portrays a medieval coffee shop where all the men sit, talking and having a good time. The only women who can be seen in this masterpiece are the maids working in the kitchen. The painting thus depicts the ideal face of a master chef, and the typical features of a Greek housewife. White lead pencils and pastels were using to create the sketch of the scene, and Titian’s use of yellow and orange colours for the backgrounds and black and white spots of colour for the figures of the cafe and the background scenery were both characteristic of the beauty of the age.