The Rape of Proserpine - ConclusionI think there are two parts to this painting, the landscape and the figures. I think the landscape could be a picture in it's own right, but I'm not so sure about the figures.
This is a completely romantic painting merging imaginary medieval landscape with an ancient legendry story and I suspect that if the people were clothed in peasant costumes the impact of the image would loose much of its appeal.
The arrangement of contiguous areas of tones gives an overall structure and form to the painting, re-enforcing the composition.
Distortion of perspective is acceptable [My daughter disagrees and so I must qualify 'perspective' as a normal 50mm lens. I think the mid and far distance is equivalent to a telephoto lens, but near is more like normal], and draws the viewer's eye to the important areas, with well defined banding between the near, mid and far distance.
Bright highlight areas are used sparingly and account for a very small percentage of the canvas. One can get a dramatic image with this sort of tonal range, especially with points of interest (mid to 1/4 tones) being surrounded by shadows to give the greatest contrast.
The edges should get softer in the distance.
Non-realistic colours are acceptable in the right setting.
Weak skies ensure that the viewer is drawn to the interesting parts of the image. I have always enhanced the sky, both in tones and saturation - but perhaps this is because the subject of my images are not that interesting!
There is no need to show everything in detail - hints in the shadows add to the presence of the image and enable the viewer to explore more and more of the image, after the initial impact.
The painter can construct their own composition, but this will be harder to do with photographs. However, along with perspective, it is possible to expand, contract or distort different areas, as well as add and remove objects, to create the impact and enhance the story one is attempting to tell.
I thought I would try processing an image that roughly had the tonal characteristics of the painting.
One should perhaps read the legend that this picture is attempting to portray, which is...
Venus, in order to bring love to Pluto, sent her son Amor (also known as Cupid) to hit Pluto with one of his arrows.
Proserpine was in Sicily, at the Pergusa Lake near Enna, where she was playing with some nymphs and collecting flowers, when Pluto came out from the volcano Etna with four black horses named Orphnaeus, Aethon, Nycteus and Alastor. [that's the cart on the right of the painting]
He abducted her in order to marry her and live with her in Hades of which he was the ruler. Notably, Pluto was also her uncle, being Jupiter's (and Ceres's) brother. She is therefore Queen of the Underworld.