Counterpart

A counterpart or a counterpart is called a counterpart. In art, the counterpart means a work of art that resembles another in size, form, presentation, choice of object, and content. In literature one can refer to the concept of a work which resembles another in many details. For example, Nasreddin Hoca, the protagonist of many humorous prosaic stories, which is primarily known in the Turkish-Islamic-influenced area, can be regarded as a counterpart to Till Eulenspiegel, a rogue of a middle-German legend.
The term goes back to the French pendant, which has the same meaning. This word derives from the Latin pendere, which can be translated as hanging. This is also the origin of the noun pendulum, which denotes a vibrating body. Dabie basically refers to the translation of the word. The relationship between the hanging and the counterpart results from the image of the scale, where a counterweight is opposed to a weight. A weighing pan needs a suitable counterpart, a counterpart, in order not to sag and to be in equilibrium.

In museums, galleries or on the stage, artistic counterparts are often opposed or arranged symmetrically in the exhibition space. One speaks of a pendant suspension. Between the works, which stand opposite each other, more objects can be exhibited in the room, which sometimes provokes interpretation. Let’s take a look at some examples of art:

Arrangement of two picture panels as a counterpart
Adam and Eve, Albrecht Dürer. The second painting is exhibited in the Spanish Prado as a counterpart.
The above example shows excerpts from Albrecht Dürer’s two-part painting Adam and Eve (1507), on the left is Adam, on the right Eva. In the Prado, one of the most important art museums in the world in Madrid (Spain), the work of art was exhibited as a counterpart. Both pictures hang on the same level next to each other. The works resemble the content, presentation, and choice of the object.

Here, Adam and Eve are depicted, which according to the first creation report of the Bible (Gen. 1:27) are the first human pair, and therefore the tribal elders of all generations. Both of Diirre’s works stand frontally in life-size, with only their sexual parts being impacted by branches, against a dark background. Both works show the forbidden fruit which Eva takes from the serpent.

Two works by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the pendants of each other.
Abraham and the angels, Hagar and Ishmael, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, c. 1732
The above paintings are by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a Venetian painter of the Baroque and Rococo. Both works point to the other in the title. The left was designated as Abraham and the angels, the counterpart of Hagar and Ishmael, the right being Hagar and Ishmael, the counterpart of Abraham and the Angels. They are regarded as masterpieces of Christian art and represent a history of the Old Testament around Abraham’s ore and tribe (Gen 12-25).

So it is said that Abraham and his wife Sara apparently remain childless, whereupon Sara asks her husband to procreate with the Egyptian maid Hagar to secure the succession. According to the custom, the child was to be regarded as the child of the mistress, that is, Sara. Some time later, Hagar actually gave birth to a son, Ishmael. However, 14 years later, Sara still becomes a mother and gives birth to Isaac.

The older Ishmael now makes fun of Isaac, whereupon the jealous Sara asks her husband to send the slaver Hagar and her son away. Abraham is only unwilling. As a result, an angel (left painting) appears to him, which promises him that a great people will emerge from Ishmael. Abraham gives in and sends the two with provisions. When their supplies come to an end, Hagar, whose son is thirsty before death, appears again an angel, who shows her a well.

Consequently, both paintings are similar to a similar subject, but also resemble the way they are displayed (similar colors, painting techniques) and the perspective (angels left, people right). The images are therefore to be viewed as counterparts and thus counterparts.

Short overview: The most important part of the term at a glance
A counterpart, a correspondence, and a supplement is called a counterpart. The term is common in art (music, literature), but also in the general language usage.
In art history, works are thus designated which resemble another in content, representation, and form, and complement the corresponding work in some form (cf. homage). Frequently, counterparts in museums are displayed on opposite walls or side by side. In this ensemble other works of art can be “built in”

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