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    Historical and Modern Ideas of Female Form

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    While St. Peter's was built through the power and influence of the church, the Palace of Versailles was built through the absolute power of a long-lived monarch. Does the beauty and artistic legacy that each represents justify the expenditures involved? In your opinion, could these structures have been possible without the power behind them? Why or why not?

    Look at the female figures that are prominent in the paintings of such masters as Titian. The way they were depicted exemplified what was considered the highest level of feminine beauty for that time. Consider the modern "female ideal form" as portrayed on television, in ads, etc. Then compare and contrast these two ideals of loveliness. Why have attitudes changed so much? Does art reflect the society in which it exists, or does the art influence the values of the society? Support your position!

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    Solution Preview

    You have two questions which seem to require you to apply your own analysis and conclusion based on the facts you know. These questions appear to be art historical in context, but your discussion will inevitably move beyond the world of art and get into ethics and cultural studies. While I cannot tell you how you should answer these questions, here are some ways to approach the questions:

    1) For the first question, you need to address whether you think the cost of the buildings (St. Peter and Versailles) can be justified by their "beauty and artistic legacy". Whether you answer "yes" or "no", you should address different underlying issues. For example, you could address the issue of purpose of the buildings. What was the purpose of creating a beautiful St. Peter's basilica? Specifically, you should ask yourself what status the building enjoyed within the Catholic Church, and whether it received a large number of visitors/pilgrims. If you think that it was highly important for the church to communicate certain ideas to visitors (such as the grandeur of the Catholic Church as symbolized in structural embellishment), then this might help to justify the costs involved. If, however, you think that the creation of physical beauty can never outweigh other social needs (e.g. the needs of the poor or hungry living in Rome or other parts of Europe while St. Peter's was being constructed), then you might conclude that the cost cannot be justified.

    As for Versailles, ask yourself whether this building was intended for a relatively public use, similar to the way St. Peter's was, or if its purpose was more private in nature. Do ...

    Solution Summary

    This document has two parts. First, it examines the issue of cost and benefit in regard to the construction of two major historical monuments: St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and the Palace of Versailles in France. Second, it addresses the changing nature of ideal female beauty from the time of the Renaissance (as reflected in the paintings of Titian) until today.