Hierarchy of genres
Created by the French Academy of Fine Arts, a theoretical ranking of painting types according to perceived technical difficulty and intellectual rigor on the part of both viewer and painter.-orders the importance est.
by the academy. the most important 1. history 2.historical portiture 3. landscaping 4.portriture 5.genre painting 6.stilllife
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The Apollo Belvedere or Apollo of the Belvedere—also called the Pythian Apollo— is a celebrated marble sculpture from Classical Antiquity.
It was rediscovered in central Italy in the late 15th century, during the Renaissance. From the mid-18th century, it was considered the greatest ancient sculpture by ardent neoclassicists and for centuries epitomized ideals of aesthetic perfection for Europeans and westernized parts of the world. It is now found in the Gabinetto delle Maschere of the Pio-Clementine Museum of the Vatican Museums complex.The Greek god Apollo is depicted having just shot a death-dealing arrow. The episode represented may be the slaying of Python, the primordial serpent guarding Delphi—making the sculpture a Pythian Apollo.
Alternatively, it may be the slaying of the giant Tityos, who threatened his mother Leto, or the episode of the Niobids.The large white marble sculpture—2.24 m (7.3 feet) high—depicts the Greek god Apollo as a standing archer. The complex contrapposto of the work has been much admired; it appears to position the figure both frontally and in profile. Although there is no agreement as to the precise narrative detail being depicted, the conventional view has been that the god has just overtaken the serpent Python, the chthonic serpent of Delphi. The arrow has just left his bow and the effort impressed on his musculature still lingers.
His hair, lightly curled, flows in ringlets down his neck and rises gracefully to the summit of his head, which is encircled with the strophium, a band symbolic of gods and kings. His quiver is suspended across his left shoulder. He is entirely nude except for his sandals and that his robe (chlamys) is clasped at his right shoulder and is turned up only on his left arm and thrown back.
Was an effort of more than 100 authors and its editors had solicited articles from all the major French philosophes. Set forth the most advanced critical ideas in religion, government and philosophy. The articles represented a collective plea for freedom of expression. Was designed to secularize learning and to undermine the intellectual assumptions remaning from the middle ages and reformation . Looked to antiquity rather than to the Christian centuries for their intellectual and ethical models. The publishing of the encyclopedia was led by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert the first volume was published in 1751 and it was complete in 1772 and had 17 volumes and 11 plated, The Encyclopedia help spread critical ideas of religion, philosophy, scientific, government, et cetera, 14,000-16,000 copies were printed, was condemned by the church but then supported by Catherine the Great of Russia (one of the enlightened absolutists)when it was banned in France.
*led by Diderot
Winckelmann decided to pursue a new course in his career. In a letter to Count Heinrich von Bünau he complained: “…
little value is set on Greek literature, to which I have devoted myself so far as I could penetrate, when good books are so scarce and expensive.” In 1748 Winckelmann was appointed secretary of the Bünau library at Nöthenitz, near Dresden. The library contained some 40,000 volumes. Winckelmann had read Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Xenophon, and Plato, but now he found the works of such famous Enlightenment writers as Voltaire and Montesquieu.
To leave behind the Spartan atmosphere of Prussia was a great relief for him.Winckelmann’s major duty was to assist von von Bünau to write a book on the German-Roman Empire. Four volumes had already been finished. During this period he made several visits to the collection of antiquities at Dresden, but his description of its best paintings was left unfinished. Among his new acquaintances was the painter Adam Friedrich Oeser (1717-1799), Goethe’s future friend, who encouraged Winckelmann in his aesthetic studies.
Wincelman lived for two years in Oeser’s home.In 1751 the papal nuncio, Archinto, visited Nöthenitz, and in 1754 Winckelmann joined the Roman Catholic Church, with the hope that the church would finance his stay in Italy. Goethe once stated, that Winckelmann was a pagan, and one anonymous joker said that “Winckelmaan would even have become a Mahometan, provided the rite of circumcision had been performed with a Greek knife, and connected with a promise of having permission to make excavations in Olympia.” Soon after arriving in Rome, Winckelmann obtained an audience of the Pope, Benedict XIV, but His Holiness excused Winckelmann from kissing his foot.However, Winckelmann’s decision finally opened him the doors of the Pope’s library, one of the largest in the world. He was named librarian to Domenico Cardinal Passionei, who was impressed by Winckelmann’s beautiful Greek writing.
After publishing Gedanken über die Nachahmung der Griechischen Werke in der Mahlerey und Bildbauer-Kunst (1755), Winckelmann moved to Rome. There he met the painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779), and Alessandro Cardinal Albani, a collector of antiquities, who became his patron. Mengs was the channel through which Winkelmann’s ideas were realized in art and spread around Europe.”The only way for us to become great, yes, inimitable, if it is possible, is the imitation of the Greeks,” Winckelmann declared. With imitation he did not mean slavish copying: “… what is imitated, if handled with reason, may assume an other nature, as it were, and become one’s own.
” The Roman art Winckelmann discredited, which was unusual at that time – Roman culture was considered the ultimate achievement of Antiquity. Neoclassical artists attempted to revive the spirit as well as the the forms of ancient Greece and Rome. Mengs’s contribution in this was considerable – he was in his day widely regarded as the greatest living painter.
The French painter Jacques-Louis David met Mengs in Rome (1775-80) and was introduced to the artistic theories of Winckelmann. His painting, ‘The Oath of the Horatii’ (1784), made in the neoclassical spirit, is one of the greatest interpretations of the French revolutionaries’ zeal.Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works made Winckelmann famous.
It was reprinted several times and soon translated into French. In England, Winkelmann’s views stirred discussion in the 1760s and 1770s. Henry Fuseli’s translation of his book, Reflections on the Painting and Sculpture of the Greeks, came out in 1765, but the translation was not well received.
Originally Winkelmann planned to stay in Italy only two years with the help of a grant from Dresden, but the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) changed his plans. Though Winckelmann spent many years in Italy, never learned to speak Italian with ease. He wrote in German, Latin and Greek.
An ascetic aesthete by nature, he lived simply on bread and wine, but partly his monk like life style and loneliness was increased by his homosexuality. In Germany he had suffered from bad digestion, which forced him frequently to a water-soup diet, but in Italy his healt was better than ever.Winckelmann’s first task in Rome was to describe the statues in the Belvedere – the Apollo, the Laocoõn, the so-called Antinous, and the Torso Belvedere – which represented him the “utmost perfection of ancient sculpture.” During a visit in the garden of the Ludovisi villa, he climbed on the base of a statue to examine it more closely; the statue fell and broke in pieces. In 1758 Winckelman made his first trip to Naples where observed the archaeological excavations being conducted in that vicinity. Usually the excavations of Pompeii in 1748 have been considered the decisive stimulus to the new archaeological classicism, but first excavation in Herculaneum took place much earlier.
These two cities had been buried by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79.
From the middle of the century the collection of “antiques” becomes a passion all over Europe, discoveries in Pompeii and Herculaneum has a profound effect on taste, especially on interior design, and a journey to Italy is a mark of good breeding. Goethe made his journey to Italy in 1786-88 and although he never met Winckelmann – he was nineteen when Winckelmann died – Goethe found his memory still inspiring.At the age of 45 Winckelmann fell in love with a young nobleman, Baron Friedrich von Berg, and wrote for him Abhandlung von der Fähigkeit der Empfindung des Schönen (1763).
“As it is confessedly the beauty of man which is to be conceived under one general idea, so I have noticed that those who are observant of beauty only in women, and are moved little or not at all by the beauty of men, seldom have an impartial, vital, inborn instinct for beauty in art,” he wrote in the essay, composed in the highest style of prose. “To such persons the beauty of Greek art will ever seem wanting, because its supreme beauty is rather male than female.” Antinous, beloved by the emperor Hadrian, was for Winckelmann a target of specific devotion.
A portrait of Winckelmann by Anton von Maron from 1786 shows him writing notes about an engraving of the bas-relief of Antinous.Winckelman rejected in his art theory the sensual nature of art objects, and idealized expressionless beauty, tranquil and passionless aesthetic forms. He never learned to appreciate Egyptian art, but had adopted Aristotle’s claim that Egyptians had outwardly bowed shinbones and concave noses.
Thus they had no beautiful models.While maintaining a facade of diligence and respectability, Winckelmann did not suborninate his private life to cold theory. In his memoirs Giacomo Casanova tells that he discovered Winckelmann in December 1760 in sexual encounter with a young boy. “During my long studies I have come to admire and then to adore the ancients who, as you know, were almost all buggerers without concealing it”, Winckelmann had explained.
Edmund Burke and the Sublime
Edmund Burke, whose Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful was published in 1757, believed, however, that “terror is in all cases whatsoever . . . the ruling principle of the sublime” and, in keeping with his conception of a violently emotional sublime, his idea of astonishment, the effect which almost all theorists mentioned, was more violent than that of his predecessors: “The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature . . . is Astonishment; and astonishment is that state of the soul, in which all its motions are suspended, with some degree of horror. In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other.
” [Burke, On the Sublime, ed. J. T. Bolton. 58]In addition to the emphasis which he places on terror, Burke is important because he explained the opposition of beauty and sublimity by a physiological theory. He made the opposition of pleasure and pain the source of the two aesthetic categories, deriving beauty from pleasure and sublimity from pain. According to Burke, the pleasure of beauty has a relaxing effect on the fibers of the body, whereas sublimity, in contrast, tightens these fibers.
Thus, by using the authority of his ingenious theory, he could oppose the beautiful and sublime: “The ideas of the sublime and the beautiful stand on foundations so different, that it is hard, I had almost said impossible, to think of reconciling them in the same subject, without considerably lessening the effect of the one or the other upon the passions” [113-114]. Burke’s use of this physiological theory of beauty and sublimity makes him the first English writer to offer a purely aesthetic explanation of these effects; that is, Burke was the first to explain beauty and sublimity purely in terms of the process of perception and its effect upon the perceiver. Turner was probably the first to embody these views in painting.
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour was a path that noblemen of means would take throughout the great European cities, made popular from the late 17 to mid-19th century. The trek often ended in Naples, the origin of European civilization, and is seen as having opened up protestant culture, and having broken down the schism within the Christian church. Many noblemen who ventured on the journey, like Charles Dickens, were observant of the relationship between present civilization and the ruins of antiquity’s civilizations; the Grand Tour was a portal for the nobleman’s picturesque ideals.
Pompeii & Herculaneum
August 79bce, Mt Vesuvius erupted, killed everyone instantly, became known as ‘living city of the dead’ buried under volcanic ash. Advanced: Cobblestone streets, sliding doors, running water fountains, bakeries, bars, carved signs, red light districts, communal bathrooms.
n Spring 2013 the British Museum will present a major exhibition on the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, sponsored by Goldman Sachs. This exhibition will be the first ever held on these important cities at the British Museum, and the first such major exhibition in London for almost 40 years. It is the result of close collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii, will bring together over 250 fascinating objects, both recent discoveries and celebrated finds from earlier excavations.
Many of these objects have never before been seen outside Italy. The exhibition will have a unique focus, looking at the Roman home and the people who lived in these ill-fated cities.Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum said “This will be a major exhibition for the British Museum in 2013, made possible through collaboration with the Archaeological Superintendency of Naples and Pompeii which has meant extremely generous loans of precious objects from their collections, some that have never travelled before. I am delighted that Goldman Sachs is sponsoring this important exhibition and am extremely grateful to them for their support.””It is a privilege to be partnering with the British Museum for this incredibly exciting exhibition, which offers a fascinating insight into daily life at the heart of the Roman Empire”, said Richard Gnodde, Co Chief executive of Goldman Sachs International.
“We recognize the importance of supporting cultural platforms such as this and we are delighted to offer our support to help bring this unique experience to London.”Pompeii and Herculaneum, two cities on the Bay of Naples in southern Italy, were buried by a catastrophic volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in just 24 hours in AD 79. This event ended the life of the cities but at the same time preserved them until rediscovery by archaeologists nearly 1700 years later. The excavation of these cities has given us unparallelled insight into Roman life.Owing to their different locations Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried in different ways and this has affected the preservation of materials at each site. Herculaneum was a small seaside town whereas Pompeii was the industrial hub of the region. Work continues at both sites and recent excavations at Herculaneum have uncovered beautiful and fascinating artefacts. These include treasures many of which will be displayed to the public for the first time, such as finely sculpted marble reliefs, intricately carved ivory panels and fascinating objects found in one of the main drains of the city.
The exhibition will give visitors a taste of the daily life of the people of Pompeii and Herculaneum, from the bustling street to the family home. The domestic space is the essential context for people’s lives, and allows us to get closer to the Romans themselves. This exhibition will explore the lives of individuals in Roman society, not the classic figures of films and television, such as emperors, gladiators and legionaries, but businessmen, powerful women, freed slaves and children. One stunning example of this material is a beautiful wall painting from Pompeii showing the baker Terentius Neo and his wife, holding writing materials showing they are literate and cultured. Importantly their pose and presentation suggests they are equal partners, in business and in life.
The emphasis on a domestic context also helps transform museum artefacts into everyday possessions. Six pieces of wooden furniture will be lent from Herculaneum in an unprecedented loan by the Archaeological Superintendency of Napels and Pompeii. These items were carbonized by the high temperatures of the ash that engulfed the city and are extremely rare finds that would not have survived at Pompeii – showing the importance of combining evidence from the two cities. The furniture includes a linen chest, an inlaid stool and even a garden bench.
Perhaps the most astonishing and moving piece is a baby’s crib that still rocks on its curved runners.The exhibition will include casts from in and around Pompeii of some of the victims of the eruption. A family of two adults and their two children are huddled together, just as in their last moments under the stairs of their villa.
The most famous of the casts on display is of a dog, fixed forever at the moment of its death as the volcano submerged the cities.
France as female Republic or Liberty
Marianne is a national emblem of the French Republic, an allegory of liberty and reason, and a portrayal of the Goddess of Liberty.Marianne is displayed in many places in France and holds a place of honour in town halls and law courts. She symbolises the “Triumph of the Republic”, a bronze sculpture overlooking the Place de la Nation in Paris. Her profile stands out on the official government logo of the country, is engraved on French euro coins and appears on French postage stamps; it also was featured on the former franc currency. Marianne is one of the most prominent symbols of the French Republic, and is officially used on most government documents.Marianne is a significant republican symbol, as opposed to monarchy, and an icon of freedom and democracy against all forms of dictatorship. Other national symbols of France include the tricolor flag, the national motto Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, the national anthem La Marseillaise, as well as the coat of arms and the official Great Seal of France.
In classical times it was common to represent ideas and abstract entities by gods, goddesses and allegorical personifications. Less common during the Middle Ages, this practice resurfaced during the Renaissance. During the French Revolution of 1789, many allegorical personifications of ‘Liberty’ and ‘Reason’ appeared.
These two figures finally merged into one: a female figure, shown either sitting or standing, and accompanied by various attributes, including the tricolor cockade and the Phrygian cap. This woman typically symbolised Liberty, Reason, the Nation, the Homeland, the civic virtues of the Republic. (Compare the Statue of Liberty, created by a French artist, with a copy in both Paris and Saint-Étienne.) In September 1792, the National Convention decided by decree that the new seal of the state would represent a standing woman holding a spear with a Phrygian cap held aloft on top of it.
Musée des Monuments Français
Alexandre Lenoir [1762-1839] In 1795, Alexandre Lenoir opened the Musée des monuments français to the public in the Petits Augustins convent, now the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and served as its administrator for 30 years, but he had to restore most of its collections to their former private and public owners on the Bourbon Restoration in 1816. What remained would be partly moved to the Louvre in 1824 (in the galerie d’Angoulême under the generic term of musée de la sculpture française) and partly in the musée de Versailles in 1836.
The Swing; Jean-Honoré Fragonard; 1767
Also know as The Happy Accidents of the Swing, this painting is considered one of the great master works of the Rococo era.
The picture depicts a young woman on a tree swing, being pushed by her husband. The young woman is clearly flirting with the young man in the foreground, of whom her husband is unaware. The painting was first commissioned to Gabriel Francois Doyen by a young nobleman, to depict him and his mistress. Doyen, of the opinion that the painting was frivolous, refused the commission and passed it on to Fragonard. This painting has influences many later works, from paintings to sculptures, the most recent being the animated feature film Tangled, created in the style of the painting.
Majaism (maja, majo)
The extent to which Spanish society resented French influence can be witnessed in the phenomenon of the majo y maja.
Majaism as a social movement was a celebration of the Spanish working class as an aesthetic. Colorful dress, loud behavior, cigar smoking, intricately choreographed rituals of extra-marital intimacy: all these gestures were consciously performed as an affront to the French-influenced upper class. The male majo and female maja claimed to embody the “pure Castilian spirit” which was under attack by the incursion of customs foreign to Spanish soil. Far from offending the elite, however, the more adventurous aristocrats organized majo y maja costume galas. The working class aesthetic was thus appropriated, absorbed, assimilated by the upper class in a gesture of playful class warfare.
Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera; Antoine Watteau; 1717
The high class people didn’t need to work so they had free time all the time, would have outdoor parties. Cheribs flying in the sky tell us that this is not a realistic painting. Loving couples making a pilgrimige.
Greek myth says that Venus the goddess of love was born on the island of cythera.,-Jean-Antoine Watteau, 1717, RococoAre the lovers about to set sail for Cythera, or are they returning from the island of love? The question is still open. This superb painting was the reception piece that Watteau submitted to the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. The subject was so striking and so new that the expression “fête galante” was invented to describe it.Setting out for the island of love – or leaving it?Watteau took five years to complete this large painting, which he submitted to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture as his reception piece.
The reason it took him so long was that at the same time he was also working on the increasing number of private commissions that his growing reputation brought him. Watteau was given approval to submit the painting in 1712, but only actually submitted it in 1717. The work – The Pilgrimage to Cythera – proved to be one of his masterpieces, and he was admitted to the Academy as a painter of “fêtes galantes” – courtly scenes in an idyllic country setting.
But does the work actually depict couples setting out for the island or returning from it? Art historians have come up with a wide variety of interpretations of the allegory of the voyage to the island of love.The work remained in the collections of the Academy until it was moved to the Muséum Central des Arts de la République – later the Musée du Louvre – in 1793. The work marks an important milestone in the history of 18th century art. Such was its success that Watteau painted a second version at the request of his friend Jean de Julienne. This second version is in the Friedrich II collection in the Charlottenburg palace in Berlin.The myth of CytheraIn Antiquity, Cythera, one of the Greek islands, was thought to have a serious claim to be the birthplace of Aphrodite, goddess of love. The island thus became sacred to Aphrodite and love. The painting may have been inspired by certain 17th century operas or possibly a comedy by Dancourt entitled The Three Cousins, first performed in 1700.
Watteau’s masterpiece is an allegory of courtship and falling in love. The first couple is sitting absorbed in flirtatious conversation. They are next to a second pair who are just standing up, while a third pair are heading for the ship. The young woman is looking back in nostalgia at the place where she has spent so many happy hours. In the distance, a number of figures are climbing aboard a superb ship with cherubs hovering overhead. Critics have always admired the highly rhythmical structure of the painting, the subtle sense of continuity between the groups of figures, the vibrancy of the brushstrokes, and the beautiful colors. Without doubt, the mysterious hazy landscape in the distance is one of the most innovative features of the painting, reflecting the influence of the landscapes of Rubens and Leonardo da Vinci.
Rodin’s opinion of the painting”What you first notice at the front of the picture (.) is a group composed of a young maiden and her admirer. The man is wearing a cape embroidered with a pierced heart, a gracious symbol of the voyage that he wishes to embark upon. (.) her indifference to his entreaties is perhpas feigned (.) the pilgrim’s staff and the breviary of love are still lying on the ground. (.
) To the left of this group is another couple. The maiden is accepting the hand of her lover, who is helping her to stand. (.) A little further is the third scene. The lover puts his arm around his beloved’s waist to encourage her to accompany him.
(.) Now the lovers are going down to the shore, laughing as they head towards the ship; the men no longer need to beseech the maidens, who cling to their arms. Finally the pilgrims help their beloved on board the little ship, which is decked with blossom and fluttering pennons of red silk as it gently rocks like a golden dream upon the waves. The oarsmen are leaning on their oars, ready to row away. And already, little cupids, borne by zephyrs, fly overhead to guide the travelers towards the azure isle which lies on the horizn.”
Portrait of Madame de Pompadour; Maurice-Quentine de La Tour; Salon of 1755
Francois Boucher, 1756 -This pastel portrait depicts one of the rare women to play a decisive role in the political, intellectual, and artistic life of the 18th century. First mistress and later friend of King Louis XV, she also aspired to be his counselor. Commissioned from the most famous and gifted pastelist of the period, Maurice-Quentin Delatour, this masterpiece sheds light on the intentions of the Marquise de Pompadour, created as it was throughout the evolving relationship of an exceptional couple.
A “program” workThe marquise is seated in a collector’s cabinet decorated with blue-green paneling accented in gold. The sumptuousness of her clothing – a spectacular French-style dress in fashion around 1750 – shows a tendency to ostentation, while the absence of jewelry and the simplicity of her coiffure underscore the portrait’s personal nature. She is shown as a protector of the arts, surrounded by attributes symbolizing literature, music, astronomy and engraving. Arranged on a table next to her in a splendid still life are Guarini’s Pastor Fido, the Encyclopédie, Montesquieu’s De l’esprit des lois, Voltaire’s La Henriade, a globe, and Le Traité des pierres gravées by Pierre-Jean Mariette. Lastly, there is an engraving by the Count de Caylus, which, however, Delatour has signed “Pompadour sculpsit”: an allusion to the marquise’s fondness for engraving and her own creations in this art form. The presence of references to the arts and literature should be read here as an educational program.
Still in love with Louis XV, she hoped to bring about in him a transformation through exposure to the extraordinary intellectual, moral, and philosophical developments which animated Paris at that time but which failed to reach the court, frozen as it was in principles and codes of etiquette.It is certain that the king saw this portrait; but did he grasp the double meaning of the works the marquise selected? While what was said between the two friends will always remain a mystery, the king clearly did not implement the liberal program suggested by his mistress.A difficult commissionThe project for this portrait dates back to 1748 and its commission to 1749. In creating her portrait, Delatour knew that he would have to place his technical mastery and sense of psychological analysis in the service of the woman who dominated France.
The artist and his subject already knew one another when the work was commissioned; they had met during the preparation of the pastel portrait of Louis XV, which was exhibited in the Salon of 1748 (Louvre, INV 2761). Despite this connection, the project met problems getting underway. Delatour tried with difficulty, resorting to diversions and alternating between legitimate excuses and bad faith, to comply with the marquise’s shifting demands. There followed a long epistolary communication between Delatour and the Marquis de Marigny, who mediated on behalf of his sister in order to hasten the completion of a portrait that the artist seemed undecided about undertaking. It was completed, but didn’t appear in the Salon until 1755.A turning point in portraitureDelatour knew how to satisfy the demands of his patron: create an image that would correspond to her role and ambitions.
Using only pastel pencils delicately heightened with gouache, he succeeded in evoking, through this official portrait, an air of intimacy. The marquise is presented in her home, surrounded by familiar and meaningful objects. This work signals the end of the fashion in codified official portraits, giving way, thanks to Delatour, to depictions as psychologically accurate as they were charged with meaning.
Portrait of Mary, Countess of Howe; Thomas Gainsborough; c. 1760
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) was a painter who loved landscapes, but who made his money through portraiture.Mary, Countess Howe (ca. 1764) is commonly heralded as one of the great masterpieces of British painting. Gainsborough was paid to paint her portrait, along with that of her husband, Richard Howe, when he lived in Bath in the 1760s.
Mary is dressed in the current fashion, shown especially by her accessories, such as her expensive Italian hat.The countess was in Bath to help heal her husband’s gout. Bath was considered a “spa town” at the time and was a popular destination for those who were sick. Gainsborough was much more interested in Mary’s portrait than he was in her husband’s: X-rays show that he tweaked and adjusted many parts of the painting, whereas her husband’s portrait shows no signs of such meticulousness. These two paintings would have been hung next to each other—the upright, strong woman stepping forward, contrasted with her husband, who is merely leaning against a rock.In fact, some art historians think that Gainsborough might have been making a statement about Mary as a powerful woman. She stands outside in a private, expansive, and fenced-in park; deer in the background allude to the English pastime of hunting. Mary was a known landowner, rare for women at the time—perhaps Gainsborough is celebrating her independence.
Gainsborough took inspiration from Anthony van Dyck for his portraits, particularly the full-length style (from head to toe) and fashionable dress. Take a look at Van Dyck’s Princess Henrietta of Lorraine Attended by a Page (1634), also in this exhibition, which depicts an exiled princess who was suspected of treason and perhaps even murder. Though Gainsborough was well known in his time for his portraits, his true love was landscape painting.
In Going to Market, he seems to have turned landscape into social commentary.At the time, thanks to the Enclosure Movement, farmers in England were being forced to get jobs from landowners rather than working independently. Because their income changed so rapidly, many farmers were out of a job and a home.
Art historians think that Gainsborough, who himself grew up on a farm, might have been referencing this phenomenon in this painting of the English countryside. The work contrasts a prosperous family—their cottage sunlit, fields green and bright—with a homeless one, huddled in darkness and mud on the lower-right part of the canvas.
Saying Grace; Jean-Baptiste Chardin; c.1740
Chardin is well known for his depictions of humble, everyday life.
 Le Bénédicité shows a modest, middle-class interior scene, where a mother is laying the table for a meal. She instructs her children to say their grace before eating. The younger of the children can easily appear a girl to the modern eye, if the drum hanging on the child-sized ladderback chair is overlooked, and is indeed identified as such in Gardner. Rand and Bianco, however, quote the inscription on a contemporary engraving, describing the child as a boy, who has not yet been breeched. The quiet, peaceful atmosphere is reinforced by the subdued colour scheme, and the muted lighting. Chardin put much work into the arrangement of the various elements of his paintings. The composition here is meticulous, and the stability created by the triangular structure of the three figures also adds to the tranquillity of the scene.
The Marriage Contract; Jean-Baptiste Greuze; 1761
Rococo. Pokes fun at the hypocrisy of arranged marriages, Considered to represent the highest ideal of genre painting in the mid-18th century, Jean-Baptiste Greuze won popularity with his sentimental, moralizing scenes. Greuze exhibited Father Reading the Bible to His Children at the 1755 Salon to great success. He worked in the bright color and lighter attitude typical of 18th-century painting, but introduced Dutch realism into French genre painting and portraiture. In 1769 Greuze suffered the humiliation of being denied the status of “history painter” after presenting his work to the Académie Royale. By the 1780s Neoclassicism had risen to popularity in France and Greuze’s work went out of fashion; his productivity and skill in decline, he died in poverty and relative obscurity.
Marriage-a-la-Mode; William Hogarth; c.
(You need not know the title of each work in the series but be able to identify any of the five as belonging to the Marriage-a-la-Mode series. Concentrate on the first of the series.) ‘Marriage A-la-Mode’ was the first of Hogarth’s satirical moralising series of engravings that took the upper echelons of society as its subject. The paintings were models from which the engravings would be made.
The engravings reverse the compositions.The story starts in the mansion of the Earl Squander who is arranging to marry his son to the daughter of a wealthy but mean city merchant. It ends with the murder of the son and the suicide of the daughter.In the first scene the aged Earl (far right) is shown with his family tree and the crutches he needs because of his gout. The new house which he is having built is visible through the window.The merchant, who is plainly dressed, holds the marriage contract, while his daughter behind him listens to a young lawyer, Silvertongue. The Earl’s son, the Viscount, admires his face in a mirror. Two dogs, chained together in the bottom left corner, perhaps symbolise the marriage.
Hogarth’s details, especially the paintings on the walls, comment on the action. A grand portrait in the French manner on the rear wall confronts a Medusa head, denoting horror, on the side wall.In the first of the series, The Marriage Settlement, he shows an arranged marriage between the son of bankrupt Earl Squanderfield and the daughter of a wealthy but miserly city merchant. Construction on the Earl’s new mansion, visible through the window, has stopped and a usurer negotiates payment for further construction at the center table.
The Earl proudly points to a picture of his family tree. The son views himself in the mirror, showing where his interests in the matter lie. The distraught merchant’s daughter is consoled by the lawyer Silvertongue while polishing her wedding ring. Even the faces on the walls appear to have misgivings. Two dogs chained to each other in the corner mirror the situation of the young couple.In the second, The Tête à Tête, there are signs that the marriage has already begun to break down. The husband and wife appear uninterested in one another, amidst evidence of their separate overindulgences the night before.
A small dog pulls a lady’s cap from the husband’s coat pocket, indicating his adulterous ventures. A broken sword at his feet shows that he has been in a fight. The open posture of the wife also indicates unfaithfulness. As Hogarth once noted: “A lock of hair falling thus cross the temples … has an effect too alluring to be strictly decent, as is very well known to the loose and lowest class of women.” The disarray of the house and the servant holding a stack of unpaid bills shows that the affairs of the household are a mess.
The third in the series, The Inspection, shows the Viscount visiting a quack with a young prostitute. The viscount, unhappy with the mercury pills meant to cure his syphilis, demands a refund while the young prostitute next to him dabs an open sore on her mouth, an early sign of syphilis.In the fourth, The Toilette, the old Earl has died and the son is now the new Earl and his wife, the Countess. The Countess sits with her back to her guests, oblivious to them, as a servant attends to her toilette. The lawyer Silvertongue from the first painting is reclining next to the Countess, suggesting the existence of an affair. This point is furthered by the child in front of the pair, pointing to the horns on the statue of Actaeon, a symbol of cuckoldry. Paintings in the background include the biblical story of Lot and his daughters, Jupiter and Io, and the rape of Ganymede.In the fifth painting, The Bagnio, the new Earl has caught his wife in a bagnio with her lover, the lawyer, and is fatally wounded.
As she begs forgiveness from the stricken man, the murderer in his nightshirt makes a hasty exit through the window. A picture of a woman with a squirrel on her hand hanging behind the countess contains lewd undertones. Masks on the floor indicate that the couple have been at a masquerade.Finally, in the sixth painting, The Lady’s Death, the Countess poisons herself in her grief and poverty-stricken widowhood, after her lover is hanged at Tyburn for murdering her husband. An old woman carrying her baby allows the child to give her a kiss, but the mark on the child’s cheek and the caliper on her leg suggest that disease has been passed onto the next generation. The countess’s father, whose miserly lifestyle is evident in the bare house, removes the wedding ring from her finger.
The Corinthian Maid; Joseph Wright of Derby; c. 1782-1785
he work illustrates the Greek tale of the origin of relief sculpture. A woman called Dibutades traces on a wall the outline of her sleeping lover’s shadow. The young man is about to depart on a journey. Later, as the story goes, her father, a potter, would fill the traced silhouette with clay to create the first relief sculpture. The light in the painting bears the trademarks of Joseph Wright: The soft light in the scene produced by the hanging lamp behind the curtain is balanced by the bright spot of the potter’s kiln in the dark room on the right.
Note also the strong lines and the almost artificial, sculptural quality of Dibutades’ figure. All in all, Joseph Wright’s work illustrated 2 important streams of late Enlightenment culture: the pragmatism of industrial reality and the attempts to connect it to the classical past. How to combine technological reality with the spirit of history without appearing naive, clichéd, or overtly didactic remains a dilemma today—more than 200 years later.
Count Kirill Razumovsky; Pompeo Batoni; 1766
-Know the general format/style and subject of their works but you will not have to identify! Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (25 January 1708 – 4 February 1787) was an Italian painter whose style incorporated elements of the French Rococo, Bolognese classicism, and nascent Neoclassicism.He was born in Lucca, the son of a goldsmith, Paolino Batoni. He moved to Rome in 1727, and apprenticed with Agostino Masucci, Sebastiano Conca and/or Francesco Imperiale (1679-1740).By the early 1740s, however, he started to receive independent commissions. In 1741, he was inducted into the Accademia di San Luca.
His celebrated painting, The Ecstasy of Saint Catherine of Siena (1743) illustrates his academic refinement of the late-Baroque style. Another masterpiece, his Fall of Simon Magus was painted initially for the St Peter’s Basilica.Batoni became a highly-fashionable painter in Rome, particularly after his rival, the proto-neoclassicist Anton Raphael Mengs, departed for Spain in 1761. Batoni befriended Winckelmann and, like him, aimed in his painting to the restrained classicism of painters from earlier centuries, such as Raphael and Poussin, rather than to the work of the Venetian artists then in vogue.He was greatly in demand for portraits, particularly by the British traveling through Rome, who took pleasure in commissioning standing portraits set in the milieu of antiquities, ruins, and works of art. There are records of over 200 portraits by Batoni of visiting British patrons.
Such “Grand Tour” portraits by Batoni came to proliferate in the British private collections, thus ensuring the genre’s popularity in the United Kingdom, where Sir Joshua Reynolds would become its leading practitioner. In 1760, the painter Benjamin West, while visiting Rome would complain that Italian artists “talked of nothing, looked at nothing but the works of Pompeo Batoni”.In 1769, the double portrait of Joseph II and Leopold II won an Austrian nobility for Batoni. He also portrayed Pope Pius VI. According to a rumor, he bequeathed his palette and brushes to Jacques-Louis David.
He was married twice, to Caterina Setti (d. 1742) in 1729, and then to Lucia Fattori in 1747, and had twelve children; three of his sons assisted in his studio. From 1759 Batoni lived in a large house on the Via Bocca di Leone in Rome, which included a studio as well as exhibition rooms and a drawing academy. He died in Rome.
Agrippina Landing at Brundisium with the Ashes of Germanicus; Benjamin West; 1768
Benjamin West was an American artist who went to study in Rome in 1760 and returned to England in 1763, to remain there for the rest of his life. Upon his return, the Archbishop of York commissioned West to paint a story from Roman history, Agrippina returning from Syria with the ashes of her assassinated husband Germanicus. She was considered to be very noble and brave since it was believed that Emperor Tiberius who was Germanicus’ uncle and adopted father was responsible for the brilliant General’s demise. In West’s painting we see her as she lands in Brundisium carrying an urn with her two children Caligula and Agrippina junior, all dressed in white (the color of mourning) and is greeted by a large crowd of sympathizers who loved her husband and admired her courage and virtue.
She stands composed, not showing her pain on the face of this tragedy which points to the stability of her character.Agrippina Landing at Brundisium with the Ashes of Germanicus, conforms perfectly with the demands of the art scholars of the time who were appealing for a morally edifying art. Agrippina’s actions represented exemplum virtutis (example of virtue) meant to inspire paralel virtues in it’s viewers.
West has highlighted Agrippina and her retinue in the middle of the painting in a freeze-like setting which is reminiscent of the friezes he must have seen in Rome. The ancient Roman city in the back forming a stage-like setting, Agrippina’s stoic stance and the dramatic lighting effects are all typical elements of neoclassical painting but some elements of the rococo style are also present. The crying women in the left forefront and the agitated boatmen on the right are worked out with sinuous lines and more vivid colors.Benjamin West was one of the founders and the second president of the Royal academy in London, which was quite a way to go for a man from Pennsylvania, in such a class conscious society. Thanks to him, a lot of other American artists got established in England as students and professionals. According to the Yale University Art Gallery label, this painting would help him become a favorite of the King, George III, who was his life-long patron.
Oath of the Horatii; Jacques-Louis David; 1784
Jacques-Louis David, Painter to the King, Revolution, and the EmperorDavid was trained in the classicism favored by the Academy but here creates the far more severe style, Neo-Classicism. He ultimately became the painter of the Revolution and even served on the committee that voted for the beheading of the King (he would later spend time in jail for this). David was friends with Robespierre and Marat, leaders of the Reign of Terror, the revolution’s most violent aspect. After the revolution, when Napoleon became Emperor of France, David served as his official painter.David wins the Prix de Rome; A New Style EmergesDavid was raised in the wealthy and powerful family of his uncle, a minister to the King of France. The young David was at first trained in the studio of the great Rococo master François Boucher, a distant relative who also counted Fragonard amongst his students.
After several failed attempts, David would win the coveted Prix de Rome, a prize given annually to one advanced art student (somewhat equivalent to a Master of Fine Arts degree student today) in each of the three beaux-arts (pronounced “bow-zart,” fine arts in English), painting, sculpture and architecture.The competition was open to the alumni of the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts), the preeminent art school in France. The prize financed the study of art in Rome for a period of five years.
Traditionally, winners took note of the works of Antiquity (ancient Greek and Roman art) and of the High Renaissance (the legacy of Raphael & Michelangelo for example) but devoted their attention primarily to selected masters of the Baroque.In contrast, David reversed this hierarchy focusing on the art of antiquity, the renaissance and the classicizing baroque artist, Nicolas Poussin (see especially Poussin’s Burial of Phocion of 1648).What emerged in David’s painting was a sharp rejection of the Rococo style. Gone is the fluid brushwork, soft color, and the amorphous organic compositions of Boucher and Fragonard. Of equal import was the shift in subject. A telling document of the ancien regime, Fragonard’s The Swing, celebrates the pleasures of love and of the experience of the ruling class. This is a painting intended to indulge the viewer’s senses with rich, almost aromatic sights and textures.
A Story of SacrificeIn contrast, David tells the story of three brothers that make an oath to their father that they will die in the defense of their city (this is a legend about the founding of Rome). Most Neo-Classical paintings take their subjects from Ancient Greek and Roman history and the Oath of the Horatii is no exception. In this painting the three Horatii brothers have been chosen to represent the city of Rome in a battle against three brothers from the neighboring city of Alba.Here, the three Horatii brothers are swearing an oath on their swords which their father presents to them to fight until they die for their country.Here’s the catch: one of the Horatii sisters (pictured on the right) is married to one of the men on the other side (the Curiatii). When one of the Horatii brothers returns home from the battle—the only one surviving—this sister greets him with condemnation for killing her husband and the father of her children. Because she puts herself and her family before the good of her country, her brother kills her. The idea here is that one must be willing to sacrifice—even sacrifice one’s life and family members—for the state.
A Rational StyleEschewing the Rococo style, David organizes the canvas with a geometric precision that recalls the innovation of the ancient Greeks and of the Italian Renaissance that harked back to the rationalism of antiquity. David divides the linear perspectival interior into a balanced nine-part square. This rigorous structure frames the three sets of figures as does the triple screen of doric columns and arches at the far end of the room. The angle of the light heightens the muscularity of the male figures as it rakes across the surface of their bodies. This light, which enters the room from the upper left, sharply delineates mass and volume, a kind of modified tenebrism and creates, as in the work of Caravaggio, a strong sense of physicality.
As was traditional, David’s Oath of the Horatii was commissioned by the King as the summation of David’s five years of study in Rome. Such a work was to be exhibited in an annual exhibition of new art held in a large room or salon in the monarch’s palace in Paris, the Louvre (now the museum). In part because of some crafty self-promotion but primarily because of the radical style and especially because of the political implications of the painting, David’s early masterpiece quickly became a sensation.
Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi Pointing to her Children as her Treasures; Angelica Kauffman c. 1785
female Neoclassical artist Angelica Kauffmann, who drew themes from Roman history, painted this work about Cornelia, the mother of the future political leaders Gaius and Gracchus; guest of her home displays jewelry while Cornelia displays her 2 sons as her treasures; triangular composition; rejection of Rococo frivolity (1785),-The red the woman is wearing symbolizes passion, while the white that Cornelia wears symbolizes purity. Cornelia’s daughter is between the two women and is fascinated by the sparkle of the things the foolish woman is showing as she picks up a piece of jewelry. The daughter is innocent and pure because she is a child, however her young age also causes her to be also attracted to things that shine.
She does not yet have the wisdom to see value beyond materialistic things. Because the daughter is innocent and simultaneously attracted to beautiful objects, she is wearing a dress that is pink: mixing the red of passion and the white of innocence.
Self-Portrait with Two Students; Adelaide Labille-Guiard; 1785
Adélaïde Labille-Guiard was first apprenticed to a miniaturist and later, in 1769, studied the art of pastel with Maurice Quentin de La Tour. The rich palette and fine detail in the present picture, one of the earliest of her major works in oils, reflect her earlier training.
In 1783, when Labille-Guiard and Vigée Le Brun were admitted to the French Academy, the number of women artists eligible for membership was limited to four, and this painting, which was exhibited to an admiring audience at the Salon of 1785, has been interpreted as a propaganda piece, arguing for the place of women in the Academy. The artist’s fashionable dress asserts her femininity; the feminist mood is emphasized by the presence of her pupils and the statue of the Vestal Virgin in the background. Labille-Guiard achieved a certain success at court and, having painted a number of portraits of the aunts of Louis XVI, came to be known as Peintre des Mesdames. However, she sympathized with the Revolution and, unlike Vigée Le Brun, remained in France throughout her life.
John Flaxman-know the type of line drawing and Jasperware design (Wedgwood) forwhich he was famous
The Neoclassical period occurred during the late 18th and early 19th century in England and continental Europe.
It developed in a decorative and artistic sense as a reaction to the over-zealous decoration and often fussy compositions of the Rococo and Baroque styles of the first half of the 18th century.There was a heavy influence from Ancient Greco-Roman art which was entering England from Italy and Greece through archaeological excavations. Such material was commonly collected by members of the British upper classes or ‘Grand Tourists’, who travelled around the continent for both pleasure and education.Neoclassicism as an artistic style consisted of clean lines and uncomplicated designs, whilst sculptures copied the realistic nature of their Roman counterparts, producing beautifully ethereal figures in marble.
Flaxman created work in a variety of media and throughout all his Neoclassical taste is evident. The main style points which the artist used to create this Neoclassical effect are listed below.Composition:Flaxman using sparse composition, with a great deal of symmetry and balance.Color:Producing work in monochrome and marble, Flaxman’s complete lack of color for the most part adds an ethereal element to his work and is reminiscent of the works of ancient Greece and Rome.Perspective:The almost two-dimensional aspect of the artist’s illustrations and the stilted way in which objects far away are portrayed suggest that Flaxman preferred working with objects close to the viewer. Almost like a snapshot in time, with the viewer witnessing the action first hand.
Paolina Borghese as Venus Victrix; Antonio Canova; 1804-1808
A Beauty QueenAnd the winner of “Miss Arte Italiana” is – drum roll please – Antonio Canova’s Paolina Borghese as Venus Victorious! Or so, at least, is what a recent pole carried out for the Marilena Ferrari Foundation decided.
“Miss Italian Art”, a cringeworthy epithet perhaps, but one which, given the strength of the competition, is nothing to sneeze at – works by Botticelli, Leonardo and Titian were also in contention.Certainly, the semi-nude, life-size portrait of Napoleon’s wayward sister is a sumptuous work of art. Four years in the making, it was commissioned by Paolina’s second husband, the Italian prince, Camillo Borghese, shortly aftertheir marriage in 1804, a union designed to help Napoleon realise his dreams of establishing a pan-European dynasty and legitimize his claims to the Kingdom of Italy.Canova and NeoclassicismAnotonio Canova was a leading light of the Neoclassical movement. The style, influenced by the archeological discoveries in Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as the theories of the art historian Johann Wincklemann, looked back to the artistic achievements of the Greeks and Romans with renewed interest, informed by the spirit of rational enquiry that characterized the Age of Enlightenment.As Inspector General of Antiquities and Fine Art of the Papal States and responsible for acquiring works for the Vatican museums, Canova would have known his Phidias from his Praxiteles. However, he was no slavish imitator. Instead he wished to emulate the works of these earlier artists.
The methods he used demanded absolute precision. Working from numerous preparatory sketches he modelled the form into a life-size clay version. He then cast a plaster model of this which he marked up with points that weretransferred on to the marble block.
His assistants would carve the marble into shape and only then, for “the last hand”, did Canova raise his chisel, sculpting the form and crucially polishing the marble, using wax, to a fine, glistening finish. Many of his models were great personalities of the age. Canova would portray them in antique costume. This classicizing of contemporary figures vergedsometimes on the ridiculous, as in the colossal nude sculpture of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker (illustrated, right, Wellingtom Museum, Apsley House, London). His portrait of Paolina Borghese is more successful. -A modern day VenusPaolina is shown reclining on a pillowed couch in a pose of studied grace, both concentrated and relaxed.
The modelling of the nude body is extraordinarily lifelike, while Canova’s treatment of the surface of the marble captures the soft texture of skin. The tactile quality of the piece is bought out particularly in the way the sitter’s own hands are occupied, the fingers of her right connecting ever so lightly with the nape of her neck, offer a gesture charged with seductive promise. The head is raised slightly suggesting that something or someone has suddenly entered her line of vision.
The apple she holds in her left hand, her fingers wrapped around it suggestive of erotic touch, identifies her as Venus Victorious, the goddess awarded the Golden Apple of Discord in perhaps the first beauty competition in the history of Western culture. The story comes from ancient Greece. Paris the Trojan prince judged Venus more beautiful than either of her rivals, Minerva and Juno. In return Venus introduced him to a Greek girl called Helen and the rest of course is the stuff of epic poetry.Originally, Canova was to depict her as Diana, the chaste goddess of the moon and the hunt, a role that more would have require her to have been clothed. Paolina insisted on Venus, though. A bit of a loose cannon with a reputation for promiscuity, the Emperor’s sister enjoyed courting controversy and posing naked would certainly have raised a few eyebrows in polite society.
But there was more to it than that. Apparently, the Borghese family believed themselvesto be descended from the heroic founder of Rome, Aeneas, who according to Virgil was the son of Venus. The choice then not only suited Paolina’s flirtatious character, but also would have been met with approval by the Borghese family, suggesting continuity between the ancient and modern worlds.Her hair, a mass of curls bound in a Psyche knot, serves as a visual connector between the two, being worn in imitation of ancient Greek styles as was the fashion of the day.
Its careful articulation offsets the smooth shallow planes of her torso.Creating a contrast of another sort, the couch Paolina lies on is carved from a different type of marble, the base part of which is covered in rhythmically flowing drapery, much like on a catafalque, a raised platform used to bear coffins.The allusion to mortuary art is not that surprising; in Greek and Roman art the reclining female figure is frequently found on sarcophagus lids. So conspicuous an allusion demands further explanation, though, and I suppose if one were forced to read for a meaning here it would have to be the defeat of death by beauty – as expressed through art – that is being celebrated in the image.
ReceptionCanova’s extraordinary capacity to breathe life into his sculptures was noted by his contemporaries. Literally animated, the sculpture would have been on a revolving mechanism, allowing the static viewer to see the work in the round. Itwould also have been viewed by candlelight. The finely polished waxy surface would have reflected light brilliantly, creating chiaroscuoro, a more painterly than sculptural effect, perhaps, but then Canova was a painterly sculptor. Paolina owes more to the likes of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus and Titian’s Venus of Urbino and of course David’s Madame Recamier than antique sculpture a point not lost on the Neo-classical purists of the day who condemned the work as out of keeping with their austere classical theories.Inevitably the sculpture was going to cause a scandal. While intended for a private audience sophisticated enough to appreciate the classical allusions, given Paolina’s infidelities, the sculpture also served to confirm the rumours about her.
If anything, though, Paolina enjoyed the attention. Asked if she minded having to pose nude, she replied: “Why should I? The studio was heated.” Camillo refused to allow the sculpture to leave his residence.
Napoleon agreed. ImpactFrom Ingres to Renoir, from Proud’hon to Puvis de Chavannes, Paolina Borghese as Venus Victorious had an enormous impact on nineteenth century French artists. It is in the works of the English sculptor John Gibson, though, who Canova took under his wing later on in life, that we find her most faithful devotee. Animating the figure with pools of reflected light, the glistening waxy surface of his most celebrated work The Tinted Venus (illustrated right, c. 1851-56, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool) owes much to Venus Victorious; together with his own innovative use of polychromy the sculpture provoked outrage among its Victorian audience for whom it appeared a little too real: “a naked, impudent English woman” as one review put her. Canova’s own naked, impudent French woman would have been proud.
Strawberry Hill; Remodeled for Horace Walpole; 1753-1776Twickenham, Middlesex, England
The Cave of Despair; Benjamin West; 1776
In England , however , there was not only interest in the sublimation of beauty in art, but also for the experience of the sublime , which stands for human experiences arising from fear and pain. These may exciting subject of the visual arts . All the more so because it is in the form of art , the viewer does not touch the horror , which stems from fear and pain keep their distance. But the sublime can evoke a similar overwhelming emotion in the viewer as the emotion that evokes pure beauty , which is comparable with a sense of love.
These ideas were the sublime by the politician and philosopher Edmund Burke stated in his publication A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful 1757 While the (neo) classical tendency in art was the call for beauty associated , connected it with the sublime chaos and the alleged darkness of the Middle Ages and the style of the Gothic.The Cave of Despair (see picture) does not breathe the calm and organization of the neoclassical style, but appeals to the emotional and sublime of the Gothic style. The scene is based on an epic poem by the poet Edmund Spencer. We see a knight in the cave of despair , which is just on the verge of committing a dagger suicide. He was just in time to dissuade the beautiful Una . The desperation is personified in the form of the old man, who discouraged in torn clothes sits on the ground and uitstaart for themselves. The dark scene , the chaos in dark cave , the corpses and skeleton creating a fearful atmosphere, associated with the sublime. Yet this painting have a moralistic message , as that often have the neoclassical paintings from the same period.
The crusader represents the intricate inner struggle of man to do good. The old man is the man who gives up in despair , as people unfortunately do occasionally. Una represents the truth of the belief that man can protect stupid things and is able to bring him again. On the right pathJoshua Reynolds , president of the Royal Academy of Arts West before it was in 1792 , advised his artist contemporaries in his famous lectures on art , not to look at the art of classical antiquity and the Renaissance.
Mere inspiration He said that of all previous periods in art does is to learn something . And West seems this advice to heart, having taken into The Cave of Despair , by its dynamic composition and extreme light and dark contrasts reminiscent of the style principles of the Baroque and its colors to the work of Rembrandt in particular.
Self-Portrait as the Greek Painter Timanthes, James Barry; 1803
.He represents himself wearing a red coat with a yellow waistcoat and white shirt underneath.
His neck is adorned with a black ribbon. He holds aloft a painting of a Cyclops, the one-eyed giant who, according to Homer, devoured human flesh. In the background, satyrs gaze in fear at the giant.
The windswept tree and active volcano silhouetted against the sky add to the sense of drama. Behind the artist is the base of the famous Hellenistic statue the Lacöon, a cast of which stood in Barry’s studio. The artist’s deliberate placement of himself between the statue and the painting was intended to reflect his ability to survive adversity.
The Nightmare; Henry Fuseli; 1781
Shocked, titillated, and frightenedWorking during the height of the Enlightenment, the so-called “Age of Reason,” the Swiss-English painter Henry Fuseli (born Johann Heinrich Füssli) instead chose to depict darker, irrational forces in his famous painting The Nightmare.
In Fuseli’s startling composition, a woman bathed in white light stretches across a bed, her arms, neck, and head hanging off the end of the mattress. An apelike figure crouches on her chest while a horse with glowing eyes and flared nostrils emerges from the shadowy background.The painting was first displayed at the annual Royal Academy exhibition in London in 1782, where it shocked, titillated, and frightened exhibition visitors and critics. Unlike many of the paintings that were thenpopular and successful at the Royal Academy exhibitions, Fuseli’s The Nightmare has no moralizing subject. The scene is an invented one, a product of Fuseli’s imagination.
It certainly has a literary character and the various figures demonstrate Fuseli’s broad knowledge of art history, but The Nightmare’s subject is not drawn from history, the Bible, or literature. The painting has yielded many interpretations and is seen as prefiguring late nineteenth-century psychoanalytic theories regarding dreams and the unconscious (Sigmund Freud allegedly kept a reproduction of the painting on the wall of his apartment in Vienna).Incubus or maraThe figure that sits upon the woman’s chest is often described as an imp or an incubus, a type of spirit said to lie atop people in their sleep or even to have sexual intercourse with sleeping women. Fuseli’s painting is suggestive but not explicit, leaving open the possibility that the woman is simply dreaming. Yet, her dream appears to take frightening, physical form in the shapes of the incubus and the horse. According to Fuseli’s friend and biographer John Knowles, who saw the first drawing Fuseli made for the composition in 1781, the horse was not present in the drawing but added to the painting later. -Although it is tempting to understand the painting’s title as a punning reference to the horse, the word “nightmare” does not refer to horses. Rather, in the now obsolete definition of the term, a mare is an evil spirit that tortures humans while they sleep.
As Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) defined it, a mare or “mara, [is] a spirit that, in heathen mythology, was related to torment or to suffocate sleepers. A morbid oppression in the night resembling the pressure of weight upon the breast.” Thus, Fuseli’s painting may in fact be understood as embodying the physical experience of chest pressure felt during a dream-state. Dark themesThrough his use of composition and chiaroscuro – the strategic juxtaposition of sharply contrasting light and shadow—Fuseli heightened the drama and uncertainty of his scene. However, unlike the slightly earlier painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery, which utilized chiaroscuro to symbolize the enlightening power of rational observation, Fuseli’s The Nightmare instead shows the futility of light to penetrate or explain the darker realms of the unconscious.
In The Nightmare, the single light source coming in from the right, the curtains and tassels in the background, and the shortened, stage-like foreground also add to the work’s theatricality. The red drapery falling off the edge of the bed even suggests a river of blood as it might be symbolically enacted on stage in a play or an opera, adding morbid undertones to the painting’s already dark themes. Throughout his career, Fuseli painted and illustrated scenes from Shakespeare and Milton, and his art has a consistent sense of literary, at times even erudite drama that reveals his classical education (after completing his studies, Fuseli had been ordained as a pastor in the Swiss Evangelical Reformed Church before his political activities in Zürich effectively forced him into exile in 1761). The Nightmare’s stark mixture of horror, sexuality, and morbidity has insured its enduring notoriety. In January 1783, The Nightmare was engraved by Thomas Burke and distributed by the publisher John Raphael Smith. The relatively low price of this reproduction following on the heels of the attention the work received at the Royal Academy helped to distribute the image to a wider audience.
Fuseli later painted at least three more variations with the same title and subject.The Nightmare became an icon of Romanticism and a defining image of Gothic horror, inspiring the poet Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin’s grandfather) and the writers Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe among many others. From the start, caricaturists also adopted Fuseli’s composition, and political figures from Napoleon Bonaparte to President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have all been lampooned in satirical versions of Fuseli’s painting.
The Artist Moved by the Grandeur of Ancient Ruins; Henry Fuseli; 1789-1790
The Artist’s Despair Before the Grandeur of Ancient Ruins (German: Der Künstler verzweifelnd vor der Grösse der antiken Trümmer) is a drawing in red chalk with brown wash executed between 1778-1780 by Johann Heinrich Füssli.
It depicts an artist’s response to ruins, namely those of the Colossus of Constantine at the Capitoline Museums in Rome. The work was acquired by the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1940.The artist’s despair may be caused by “the impossibility of emulating the greatness of the past”, by the knowledge that all things must decay, or by a sense of unfulfilled longing and dislocation.
 Distortions of perspective and the “plunge into the abyss” along the right edge conjure up a sense of nightmare. SPQR may be read in the inscription on the base of the foot, while vegetation sprouts up near the hand; the artist, in a “fit of melancholy”, is dwarfed by the fragments of the past.
Newton; William Blake; 1785-c. 1805
The figure of Newton is related to Michelangelo’s Abias, one of the Ancestors of Christ in the lunettes of the Sistine Chapel; Blake had made a copy of this c.1785 from an engraving by Adamo Ghisi (Butlin no.168 verso, pl.207; the engraving is repr. Blunt 1959, pl.
30a). The design was also developed from plate 10 of the second issue of There is no Natural Religion of c.1788, which shows an old man kneeling on the ground and drawing with a pair of compasses to illustrate the text ‘Application. He who sees the Infinite in all things sees God. He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only’. This illustration also led to the famous ‘Ancient of Days’, frontispiece to Europe of 1794 (repr. Erdman Illuminated Blake 1974, p.156), in which the Creator in the guise of Urizen imposes a rational order on the universe. ‘The Ancient of Days’, although completely different in composition to ‘Newton’, is also related through having apparently been derived, as a deliberate visual counterblast, from A. Motte’s frontispiece to the 1729 edition of Newton’s Principia, in which Newton is elevated to the heavens. Another source, as Bindman suggests, may have been Blake’s own commercial engraving after Stothard for the frontispiece to John Bonnycastle’s An Introduction to Mensuration, and Practical Geometry, published in 1782 (Bindman 1978, no.2, repr.). The compasses, which are shown both in ‘Newton’ and ‘The Ancient of Days’, appear in Urizen, 1794, as one of the instruments created by Urizen to define the material world (Keynes Writings 1957, p.234); in The Song of Los, 1795, Urizen entrusts the ‘Philosophy of the Five Senses’ to Newton and Locke (Keynes 1957, p.246). If, as it appears at least in the Tate Gallery copy of the print, Newton is shown under water this is another symbol of materialism (Boime has drawn attention to Newton’s comparison of himself to a boy playing on a sea shore, ‘diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me’). But Newton was also seen by Blake as contributing towards Man’s redemption, if only by giving a tangible form to error; in Europe he blows ‘The Trump of the Last Doom’, one of the events leading up to the French Revolution (Keynes 1957, p.243).
The Death of General Wolfe; Benjamin West; 1771
A 1771 painting by Benjamin West depicting the final moments of British General James Wolfe during the 1759 Battle of Quebec, A clock tower is barely visible on the left of this painting, and much darker clouds are on the right side of it. A famous someone is clad in green. A musket lies in front of the titular figure, and a tuffed hat on ground., The title figure is clothed in red, and a man behind him carries a British flag. Name this Neoclassical painting depicting a Native American kneeling next to an expiring military figure at the Battle of Quebec.
Breaking up the Blue Stocking Club; Thomas Rowlandson; 1815
The Blue Stockings Society was an informal women’s social and educational movement in England in the mid-18th century. The society emphasized education and mutual co-operation rather than the individualism which marked the French version.The Society was founded in the early 1750s by Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Vesey and others as a women’s literary discussion group, a revolutionary step away from traditional, non-intellectual, women’s activities. They invited various people to attend, including botanist, translator and publisher Benjamin Stillingfleet. One story tells that Stillingfleet was not rich enough to have the proper formal dress, which included black silk stockings, so he attended in everyday blue worsted stockings. The term came to refer to the informal quality of the gatherings and the emphasis on conversation over fashion.Rowlandson’s print reminds us that the newer image of women as passive “angels of the house” was not the only one carrying cultural currency; older images of women who were raucous and ready for a fight were still funny to audiences in 1815. The melee he depicts, however, in which bluestockings—a semi-contemptuous term for learned women —fight like fishwives and spill “French cream” (shorthand for their supposed interest in the French Revolution), is a far cry from the decorous bluestocking teas that Hannah More had attended decades earlier.
Sir Richard Arkwright; Joseph Wright of Derby; 1789-1790
born to a poor family, he died in 1792 immensely rich due to his 24 hour factories. He set up a factory in 1771 that employed workers from all over the country, regardless of age or gender. This model would be used in the Industrial Revolution He was essentially the creator of the modern factory system. -The engineer, inventor and entrepreneur, Richard Arkwright is one of the leading figures of the Industrial Revolution. He invented a water-frame in 1769 that was capable of spinning a vast number of threads.This enabled the largescale mechanisation of the cotton industry. In 1771 he established his famous cotton mill at Cromford in the Midlands. There, through drive, business acumen and unceasing labour, he developed a major industrial empire. Arkwright is now acknowledged as the founding father of the modern factory system on which the Industrial Revolution was based.
Experiment with an Air pump; Joseph Wright of Derby; 1768
A travelling scientist is shown demonstrating the formation of a vacuum by withdrawing air from a flask containing a white cockatoo, though common birds like sparrows would normally have been used. Air pumps were developed in the 17th century and were relatively familiar by Wright’s day. The artist’s subject is not scientific invention, but a human drama in a night-time setting.The bird will die if the demonstrator continues to deprive it of oxygen, and Wright leaves us in doubt as to whether or not the cockatoo will be reprieved. The painting reveals a wide range of individual reactions, from the frightened children, through the reflective philosopher, the excited interest of the youth on the left, to the indifferent young lovers concerned only with each other.The figures are dramatically lit by a single candle, while in the window the moon appears. On the table in front of the candle is a glass containing a skull.
Marie Antoinette and Her Children; Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun; 1787
The final portrait (out of thirty) of the French queen from Austria, Marie Antoinette, was created by her favorite artist and close personal friend, Elisabeth Louise Vigee-Lebrun. The significant painting, Portrait of Marie Antoinette with Her Children, is now on display at the Chateau de Versailles. This official portrait includes her children, which customarily would not include children but Marie hoped the portrait would “help her regain popularity by displaying her as a mother and a monarch” (Fernandes). There is an empty cradle amongst the family, alluding to the recent death of Marie’s youngest child Sophie, She had died while the painting was in process shortly before her first birthday. Empty cradles were often used in family paintings to represent deceased children. Marie’s elevated feet on a pillow symbolize her highly elevated status as the queen of France; the queen and her heir are the only ones who gaze back at the viewer as a sign of importance within the immediate family. The doomed queen was guillotined for treason shortly after this portrait was created during the French Revolution, it is said that all heirs to the throne were either killed or perished due to horrible imprisonment conditions.Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the eighteenth century Genevan philosopher, encouraged the idea of the “good mother”, “a woman who was completely committed to the care of their children and sacrificed all freedoms for their best interest” (Johnson). Marie Antoinette was not the most admired throughout her country, partly due to the speculations of “sexual improprieties and misconduct, inculding promiscuity and homosexual liaisons”; this portrait was in a sense an attempt to save face as a mother (Slatkin).
The Lictors Returning the to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons for Burial; Jacques-Louis David1789
David, neoclassicism, roman story, sons of roman leader beheaded because they disobeyed the treason law, moral dilemma for father.In all his historical paintings done in the years immediately precedinge great revolution, David worked hard to introduce the themes of the triumph and role of reason. In the Oath of the Horatii, the father demands a committment from his sons. A few years later, in this picture, the demands are on the father, but both are in the name of reason.The full title of this work is “Brutus Returning HOme after Having Sentenced His Sons for Plotting a Tarquinian Restoration and Conspiring against Roman Freedom; the Lictors Brint their Bodies to be Buried.” Having led the fight which overthrew the monarchy and established the Roman Republic, Brutus tragically saw his own sons participate in a plot to restore the monarchy. As a judge, he was called upon to render the verdict, and unhesitatingly condemned his own boys to death.In 1789, for David to bring up such a subject was hotly controversial, and reveals how deeply committed the artist was to the new ideas and enlightement principals. Indeed, had the revolution not occurred, this picture would doubtlessly could never have been exhibitied publicly. But in the exciting days following the fall of the bastille, David’s picture was seen as a republican manifesto, and greatly raised David’s reputation.The picture’s influence was immedialy felt in other ways, including taste, fashion and even morals. “After it was exhibited,” one commentator noted, “fashion returned to hair without p[owder and women adoptlked loose hair styles, soon to be followed by men…. Corsets were banished, as were high-heeled shoes and women got into the habit of replacing so-called court dresses by light and simple clothes, which were more elegant than sumptuous.”Artistically, David achieved his effect through an uncompromising clarity and a subordination of color to drawing. This economy of statement were in keeping with the new severity of taste, while his themes gave expression to the new cult of the civic virtues of stoical self-sacrifice, devotion to duty, honesty, and austerity. Seldom have paintings so completely typified the sentiment of an age as David’s The Oath of the Horatii (1784), The Death of Socrates (1787), and Brutus and his Dead Sons (Louvre, 1789). They were received with acclamation by critics and public alike, and have become almost the logo of the French Revolution.
The Oath of the Tennis Court; Jacques-Louis David; 1791
famous painting by David; an agreement between the members of the National Assembly; voted to end absolute monarchy; voted to have constitution and representative government-At the first meeting, Louis instructed everyone to vote as usual, The 3rd Estate refused; There was a stand-off & the 3rd Estate renamed themselves the National Assembly (a legislature); At the next meeting, the National Assembly was locked out of the meeting place; The representatives moved to an outdoor tennis court, where they took the Tennis Court Oath, (Swore they wouldn’t disband until they wrote a Constitution for France)Louis eventually caved ; allowed everyone to have an individual vote in the Estates-General
Death of Marat; Jacques-Louis David; 1793
From the outset, David was in active sympathy with the Revolution, and =his majestic historical paintings (especially the Oath of the Horatii, Death of Socrates, and Brutus’s Sons) were universally hailed as artistic demands for political action. He orchestrated the great festival of the people, 14 July 1790, and designed uniforms, banners, triumphal arches, and inspirational props for the Jacobin club’s propaganda. He was elected a Deputy from the city of Paris, and voted for the execution of Louis XVI. He was active in numerous agencies of the reign of terror, and historians have identified more than 300 victims for whom David signed execution orders. He was president of the Jacobin club on the day when his good friend and fellow Jacobin, Jean-Paul Marat, was killed.Marat, friend of Robespierre, Jacobin deputy to the Convention, and editor-in-chief of L’Ami du Peuple, was a fiery orator; he was also a violent man, quick to take offense. Some saw him as an intransigent patriot; for others he was merely a hateful demagogue On July 13, 1793, a young Royalist from Caen, Charlotte Corday, managed, by a clever subterfuge, to gain entry into his apartment. When Marat agreed to receive her, she stabbed him in his bathtub, where he was accustomed to sit hour after hour treating the disfiguring skin disease from which he suffered.David, Marat’s colleague in the Convention, had visited him only the day before the murder, and he recalled the setting of the room vividlly, the tub, the sheet, the green rug, the wooden packing case, and above all, the pen of the journalist. He saw in Marat a model of antique “virtue.” The day after the murder, David was invited by the Convention to make arrangements for the funeral ceremony, and to paint Marat’s portrait. He accepted with enthusiasm, but the decomposed state of the body made a true-to-life representation of the victim impossible. This circumstance, coupled with David’s own emotional state, resulted in the creation of this idealized image.Marat is dying: his eyelids droop, his head weighs heavily on his shoulder, his right arm slides to the ground. His body, as painted by David, is that of a healthy man, still young. The scene inevitably calls to mind a rendering of the “Descent from the Cross.” The face is marked by suffering, but is also gentle and suffused by a growing peacefulness as the pangs of death loosen their grip. David has surrounded Marat with a number of details borrowed from his subject’s world, including the knife and Charlotte Corday’s petition, attempting to suggest through these objects both the victim’s simplicity and grandeur, and the perfidy of the assassin. The petition (“My great unhappiness gives me a right to your kindness”), the assignat Marat was preparing for some poor unfortunate (“you will give this assignat to that mother of five children whose husband died in the defense of his country”), the makeshift writing-table and the mended sheet are the means by which David discreetly bears witness to his admiration and indignation.The face, the body, and the objects are suffused with a clear light, which is softer as it falls on the victim’s features and harsher as it illuminates the assassin’s petition. David leaves the rest of his model in shadow. In this sober and subtle interplay of elements can be seen, in perfect harmony with the drawing, the blend of compassion and outrage David felt at the sight of the victim. The painting was presented to the Coinvention on 15 November 1793. It immediately the object of extravagant praise; one critic claimed “the face expresses a supreme kindness and an exemplary revolutionary spirit carried to the point of sacrifice.”After Robespierre’s fall, the painting was returned to David and was rescued from obscurity only after his death. Misunderstood by the Romantics, who saw in it only a cold classicism, it was restored to a place of honor by Baudelaire, who wrote in 1846: “The drama is here, vivid in its pitiful horror. This painting is David’s masterpiece and one of the great curiosities of modern art because, by a strange feat, it has nothing trivial or vile. What is most surprising in this very unusual visual poem is that it was painted very quickly. When one thinks of the beauty of the lines, this quickness is bewildering. This is food for the strong, the triumph of spiritualism. This painting is as cruel as nature but it has the frgrance of ideals. Where is the ugliness that hallowed Death erased so quickly with the tip of his wing? Now Marat can challenge Apollo. He has been kissed by the loving lips of Death and he rests in the peace of his metamorphosis. This work contains something both poignant and tender; a soul is flying in the cold air of this room, on these cold walls, aropund this cold funerary tub.”David’s position was unchallenged as the painter of the Revolution, and he sought in his three paintings of `martyrs of the Revolution’, to apply to these modern men the same universal tragedy to be found in his beloved antiquity. Ultimately, only the Death of Marat survived. The Death of Lepeletier (of 1793) was destroyed in the Thermidorian reaction, and The Death of Bara remained unfinished. David himself was arrested during the Thermidorian reaction, but was not among the hundreds who were condemned to death. He was, however, jailed for more than a year, during which time he painted his second self-portrait.
Death of Bara; Jacques-Louis David; 1793
The Sabine Women; Jacques-Louis David; 1799
At this juncture the Sabine women, from the outrage on whom the war originated,with hair dishevelled and garments rent, the timidity of their sex being overcomeby such dreadful scenes, had the courage to throw themselves amid the flyingweapons, and making a rush across, to part the incensed armies, and assuage theirfury; imploring their fathers on the one side, their husbands on the other, “that asfathers-in-law and sons-in-law they would not contaminate each other with impiousblood, nor stain their offspring with parricide, the one their grandchildren, the othertheir children. If you are dissatisfied with the affinity between you, if with ourmarriages, turn your resentment against us; we are the cause of war, we of woundsand of bloodshed to our husbands and parents. It were better that we perish thanlive widowed or fatherless without one or other of you.” The silence affects both the multitudes and the leaders. Silence and sudden suspension ensue. Upon this the leaders come forward in order to concert a treaty, and they not only conclude a peace, but form one state out of two.
The Vendôme Column; Jacques Gondouin ; Jean-Baptise Lepere;1806-1811
The column commemorates Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz. It was cast from approximately 1,000 Austrian cannons. And the little guy at the top? It’s Napoleon himself.
The Arc de Triomphe; Jean-François Chalgrin; 1806-1836
The arch was commissioned by Napoleon as a tribute to the French army. The original architect was Chalgrin; after his death, the work was continued by Joust (or Goust) from 1811-14 until it stopped after the defeat of Napoleon. In 1833 work was begun again. The name of Blouet, who had the honor of completing the monument, is engraved on it. The inscription (translated) reads: “This monument which was begun in 1806 to honour the great army, was left unfinished for many years, was continued in 1823 with a new purpose, and was completed in 1836 in the reign of King Louis-Philippe I who dedicated it to the glory of France’s armed forces. G. A. Blouet, architect” (Dillange 7). Completed under the new king Louis-Philippe and his minister of the interior, Adolphe Thiers, the arch was a way of illustrating the new government’s efforts at national unity and reconciliation.
Napoleon Crossing the Alps at the Saint-Bernard Pass; J. L. David; 1800-1801
Painted by Jacques Louis David. As a strong supporter of the Revolution, David was captured by the power of Napoleon and the victories he brought the Republic. Suggests the direction and momentum of the attack. Established the persona of Napoleon as a heroic and extraordinary leader of men. Some find it stiff and lifeless, proof of David’s ineptness at capturing movement. Some see it not as art, but propaganda, pure and simple. Some snigger at its overblown, action-packed, cliff-hanging momentousness, with shades of “Hi ho Silver, away!” Some have it down as a sort of beginning of the end moment in David’s career, before he officially became Napoleon’s artist-lackey. Whatever one might say, though (and a lot has been said about Napoleon Crossing the Alps), it is still arguably the most successful portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte that was ever made. Personally, I love it.BackgroundCompleted in four months, from October 1800 to January 1801, it signals the dawning of a new century. After a decade of terror and uncertainty following the Revolution, France was emerging as a great power once more. At the heart of this revival, of course, was General Napoleon Bonaparte who, in 1799, had staged a an uprising against the revolutionary government (a coup d’état), installed himself as First Consul, and effectively become the most powerful man in France (a few years later he will declare himself emporer).In May 1800 he led his troops across the Alps in a military campaign against the Austrians which ended in their defeat in June at the Battle of Marengo. It is this achievement the painting commemorates. The portrait was commissioned by Charles IV, then King of Spain, to be hung in a gallery of paintings of other great military leaders housed in the Royal Palace in Madrid.Napoleon and the PortraitFamously, Napoleon offered David little support in executing the painting. Refusing to sit for it, he argued that: “Nobody knows if the portraits of the great men resemble them, it is enough that their genius lives there.” All David had to work from was an earlier portrait and the uniform Napoleon had worn at Marengo. One of David’s sons stood in for him, dressed up in the uniform and perched on top of a ladder. This probably accounts for the youthful physique of the figure.Napoleon, however, was not entirely divorced from the process. He was the one who settled on the idea of an equestrian portrait: “calme sur un cheval forgueux” (calm on a fiery horse), were his instructions to the artist. And David duly obliged. What better way, after all, to demonstrate Napoleon’s ability to to wield power with sound judgment and composure. The fact that Napoleon did not actually lead his troops over the Alps but followed a couple of days after them, travelling on a narrow path on the back of a mule is not the point!DescriptionLike many equestrian portraits, a genre favoured by royalty, Napoleon Crossing the Alps is a portrait of authority. Napoleon is pictured astride a rearing Arabian stallion. Before him to his left we see a mountain, while in the background, largely obscured by rocks, French troops haul along a large canon and further down the line fly the tricolore (the national flag of France) .Bonaparte’s gloveless left hand points up towards the invisible summit, more for us to follow, one feels, than the soldiers in the distance. Raised arms are often found in David’s work, though this one is physically connected with the setting, echoing the slope of the mountain ridge. Together with the line of his cloak, these create a series of diagonals that are counterbalanced by the clouds to the right. The overall effect is to stabilise the figure of Napoleon.The landscape is treated as a setting for the hero, not as a subject in itself. On the rock to the bottom left, for instance, the name of Napoleon is carved beside the names of Hannibal and Charlemagne, two other notable figures who led their troops over the Alps. David uses the landscape then to reinforce what he wishes to convey about his subject. In terms of scale alone, Napoleon and his horse dominate the pictorial plane. Taking the point further, if with that outstretched arm and billowing cloak, his body seems to echo the landscape, the reverse might equally hold true, that it is the landscape that echoes him, and is ultimately mastered by his will. David seems to suggest that this man, whose achievements will be celebrated for centuries to come, can do just about anything.Napoleon was obviously flattered. He ordered three more versions to be painted; a fifth was also produced which stayed in David’s studio. Reflecting the breadth of Napoleon’s European conquests, one was hung in Madrid, two in Paris, and one in Milan.ConclusionIn 1801 David was awarded the position of Premier Peintre (First Painter) to Napoleon. One may wonder how he felt about this new role. Certainly David idolized the man. Voilà mon héros (here is my hero), he said to his students when the general first visited him in his studio. And perhaps it was a source of pride for him to help secure Napoleon’s public image. Significantly, he signs and dates Napoleon Crossing the Alps on the horse’s breastplate, a device used to hold the saddle firmly in place. The breastplate also serves as a constraint, though, and given his later huge commissions, such as The Coronation of Napoleon, one wonders if David’s creative genius was inhibited as a result of his hero’s patronage.In Napoleon Crossing the Alps, however, the spark is still undeniably there. Very much in accord with the direction his art was taking at the time, “a return to the pure Greek” as he put it. In it he moulds the image of an archetype, the sort one finds on medals and coins, instantly recognizable and infinitely reproducible, a hero for all time.
The Coronation of Napoleon in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame; Jacques-Louis David; 1805-07
Jacques-Louis David, 1805-1808, oil on canvas, Neoclassicism, Napoleon offered David position of First Painter to the Empire Pomp and pageantry of coronation in December 1804 Structured composition of Neoclassical – set on a stage-like setting Altered fact to please Napoleon and his audience Napoleon – “A picture is worth 1000 words” Jacques Louis David was commissioned by Napoleon I to paint this huge canvas which depicts the splendor of the emperor’s Coronation while conveying its political and symbolic message. The painter himself was present at the ceremony, and once back in his studio portrayed the colorful congregation with realism, combining accuracy with artistry while also complying with the Emperor’s instructions. He thus met the challenge of producing a monumental work that would glorify the event and occupy a unique place in the history of painting.A double coronationHaving won military prestige with his victorious campaigns in Italy and Egypt, Napoleon took power as First Consul after the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire. In May 1804 he was proclaimed Emperor, and a coronation ceremony was held on December 2 of the same year at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris to secure his imperial legitimacy and root his authority in the French monarchic and Catholic tradition. Moreover—like Charlemagne some 1000 years before—he was consecrated emperor by a pope. However, Napoleon crowned himself, facing the congregation rather than the high altar to mark his independence from the Church. Although David’s initial sketch represented the Emperor in the act of crowning himself, the final painting shows him crowning the Empress—a gesture that presents a nobler, less authoritarian image, described by Napoleon himself as that of a “French knight.”A blend of art and historyDavid drew inspiration for the layout of his painting from Rubens’s Coronation of Marie de Medici (in the Louvre). He witnessed the ceremony first-hand and had most of its participants pose for him, also reconstructing the scene in his purpose-built studio with cardboard models and wax figurines. He highlighted the protagonists by placing them in the center and illuminating them with a beam of light. The arcade provides an imposing frame for the imperial couple, also set off by the surrounding colorful congregation. The Pope sits to the right among cardinals and bishops. The great dignitaries of the Empire are shown in three-quarter back view in the right foreground, bearing symbols of imperial power: the eagle-topped scepter, the globe, and the hand of Justice. The Emperor’s two brothers and two sisters are represented on the left, while Napoleon’s mother looks down on the scene from her vantage point in the VIP gallery. All eyes are turned toward the crown, which the painter highlighted against a section of green curtain that overlaps the pilaster. The profile of the kneeling Joséphine—made to look younger for the occasion—stands out against the lovely yellow ocher of the cross-bearer’s cope, just in front of Marshal Murat, who is portrayed holding the coronation cushion. David used an exceptionally rich palette of colors to depict the velvets, furs, satins, and lamés of the costumes and furnishings.”One walks in this picture”This painting—which is also a group portrait of the imperial family, the court, and the clergy dressed in ceremonial costume—is totally realistic in appearance. Yet David took certain liberties with history and protocol: he downsized the structure of Notre-Dame Cathedral to give the figures greater impact; on Napoleon’s orders, he included Letizia Bonaparte (“Madame Mère”) in his painting, although she had not attended the coronation ceremony, of which she disapproved; again on the Emperor’s instructions, he portrayed the Pope making a gesture of blessing, having originally represented him with his hands on his knees; and the Emperor’s sisters stand immobile, though they held the Empress’s train at the ceremony itself.These various artistic solutions, designed to suit this monumental painting and its fascinating hero, fully satisfied the Emperor: “What relief, what truthfulness! This is not a painting; one walks in this picture.” David realized the significance of this work for the future and for his personal fame, saying “I shall slide into posterity in the shadow of my hero.”
Bonaparte Visiting the Plague House at Jaffa; Antoine-Jean Gros; Salon of 1804
The painter Antoine-Jean Gros depicts the courage of General Bonaparte visiting plague-stricken soldiers in Jaffa, Syria, in 1799. Napoleon is touching one of the plague victims, as Christ did a leper. This huge canvas, hugely acclaimed at the 1804 Salon, was the first masterpiece of Napoleonic painting. Although the heroic nudes recall the work of Gros’s master David, the warm colors, chiaroscuro, and oriental decor foreshadow Romantic painting.The courage of the general-in-chiefThe picture depicts General Bonaparte visiting plague-stricken French troops in the courtyard of a Jaffa mosque being used as a military hospital. The scene took place in March 1799 during the Syrian campaign. Bonaparte, in a shaft of daylight – ignoring the doctor trying to dissuade him – touches a sore on one of the plague victims with his bare hand. One of the officers watching has a handkerchief over his mouth. On the left, two Arabs are handing out bread to the sick. On the right, a blind soldier is trying to approach the general-in-chief. In the foreground, in the shadows, the dying men are too weak to turn towards their leader. The painter is implying that Bonaparte’s virtue and courage justify the horrors of war. Gros has given him the luminous aura and gestures of Christ healing the lepers in religious paintings.The first masterpiece of Napoleonic history paintingWhen he commissioned Gros to paint this canvas, Bonaparte, who had become First Consul, wanted it to help clear the accusations of the British press, who had alleged that he had wanted to execute the plague-stricken during his retreat to Cairo. The painting, presented at the 1804 Salon shortly before his coronation – a particularly opportune moment for Bonaparte – is the first masterpiece of Napoleonic history painting. Bonaparte and then Napoleon the emperor drew the painters of the time away from classical subjects and had them paint contemporary battles and imperial pomp instead, with himself as the heroic center of attention. Gros subsequently portrayed Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau (1808, Louvre), a work very similar to this one. The painting greatly influenced the painters of the next generation, Géricault and Delacroix, notably when the latter painted The Massacre at Chios (1824, Louvre).On the threshold of RomanticismThe picture is neoclassical in its subject matter – the depiction of an example of virtue – and in certain formal aspects. The scene is depicted against a stage-like backdrop of arcades reminiscent of David’s The Oath of the Horatii (1784, Louvre). The painter has given great importance to the center of the painting, where he has placed Bonaparte, and has also included several heroic nudes. But aspects of Gros’s treatment in this work have broken with the art of his teacher David and herald Romanticism. The painter emphasizes the suffering of the plague-stricken, instilling a feeling of horror and the sublime in the viewer. The composition is divided into contrasting areas of light and shade. The light and colors are warm and recall those of the Venetian masters and Rubens. Gros, a precursor of the Orientalists, also took pains to depict oriental facial types, dress, and architecture.
Napoléon the Great; François Gerard ; 1805
Napoleon commissioned François Gérard (1770-1837) to paint a portrait, which was finished in 1805. This full-length portrait of Napoleon wearing his coronation robes, was then to be reproduced in large numbers so as to ensure a copy for all official French offices outside France. Gérard’s painting was also the model when Raphael Morghen made this print. Morghen taught in the Accademia di Belle Arti at Florence and in 1803 was made a member of the Institut de France. In 1812 he was invited to a well-paid post in Paris by Napoleon, who also appointed him to the Legion of Honour in 1816.
The Sleep of Endymion; Anne-Louis Girodet; 1791
Endymion the shepherd, a man of ideal beauty, is being visited at night by the goddess Diana in the form of a moonbeam. Her passage through the foliage is facilitated by Zephyr. In this early work, painted in Rome in 1791, Girodet, a pupil of David, demarcated himself from his master and foreshadowed romanticism. The idealized nude is antique in inspiration but the moonlight and the mysterious, dreamlike atmosphere are hallmarks of an emerging sensibility.Sleeping beautyThe shepherd Endymion, the most beautful mortal according to mythology, is sleeping naked beneath a plane tree. Juno, whom he had offended, put him to sleep for thirty years, during which he retained his youthfulness. The chaste Diana has succumbed to his perfect beauty and visits him nightly. The goddess, who is associated with the moon, manifests herself here in the form of a moonbeam, which caresses Endymion’s face and torso. Zephyr facilitates the Moon’s passage by pulling back the branches of a laurel tree.An academy figure appreciated by Chateaubriand, Balzac and BaudelaireGirodet painted this early work in 1791, during his stay at the French Academy in Rome. Every year, residents at the Academy had to send one academy figure (a study of a nude model) to the members of the Académie Royale de Peinture in Paris. Endymion is an academy figure which Girodet used as the character of a history painting. He exhibited the picture at the 1793 Salon, where it received a mixed reception. Later, the work would have the rare honor of being admired by the great romantic writers Chateaubriand, Balzac and Baudelaire. Chateaubriand’s novel Atala would serve as the inpsiration for Girodet’s 1808 painting, The Entombment of Atala (Musée du Louvre).The urge to “do something new”Girodet, as he himself wrote, wanted to “do something new” in this work. A pupil of David, he chose a mythological love scene more likely to have fascinated a baroque or rococo painter then his master. There is nothing heroic or moral about this painting. Endymion is a character from a Greek myth later transformed into a Roman fable told by Lucian in his Dialogues of the Gods. Girodet based his picture not on the Greek myth, in which the shepherd is loved by Selene, but on the Roman fable. Endymion’s body is suprisingly elongated, almost mannerist, and his pose is reminiscent of Correggio’s mythological figures or certain baroque martyrs. He exudes a blend of sensuality and coldness. The picture’s light is also very different to paintings by David and his pupils. The deep woodland shadows are traversed by a curiously blue-tinted shaft of light. The light on Endymion’s body shows Girodet’s taste for the bizarre: his moonlit torso is bathed in a vaporous effect evoking Leonardo da Vinci and Correggio, artists little appreciated at the time, except by Prud’hon. It is precisely this strangeness which heralds the emerging romantic sensibility.
Melancholy; Contance Charpentier; 1801
Charpentier is another of those fine French painters from the 18th and 19th centuries about whom we know little, likely because they were female — even though Charpentier won gold and silver medals in the Pais Salons of 1814 and 1821.Charpentier is thought to have been a student of Jacques-Louis David, though that has not been established with certainty. Some of her works were at one time attributed to him.
Ossian Receiving the Spirits of the Napoleonic Officers; Anne-Louis Girodet1802
This painting was an early example of the new subjects that would occupy the emergent French Romantic movement. The commission was given to Girodet in 1801 for the decoration of the small palace of Malmaison, which Napoleon was having furnished for his own use. Two paintings on the subject of Ossian were to flank the chimney breast in the reception room. The other was to be painted by François Gérard. They were the only two paintings to praised by the owner of the palace, and not without reason. Napoleon was also seized by the current wave of enthusiasm for the prose epics of the legendary Gaelic poet Ossian.Ossian purports to be a translation of an epic cycle of Scottish poems from the early dark ages. Ossian, a blind bard, sings of the life and battles of Fingal, a Scotch warrior. Ossian caused a sensation when it was published on the cusp of the era of revolutions, and had a massive cultural impact during the 18th and 19th centuries. Napoleon carried a copy into battle; Goethe translated parts of it; the city of Selma, Alabama was named after the home of Fingal, and one of Ingres’ most romantic and moody paintings, the Dream of Ossian was based on it. The originator of the “unearthed, old Irish fragments” Fingal and Temora, published in 1762 and 1763, was a Scot, James Macpherson (1736-1796). Ten years after Macpherson’s death it was discovered that the poems were forgeries, written by Macpherson himself from fragments of sagas.In Girodet’s painting the heroes surround the blind poet in Valhalla, in fanatical devotion, and ready for battle. In his train we see fallen warrior heroes of history, illuminated as with an inner radiance, and, as if in reward, surrounded by fairy-like floating maidens.
The Deluge; Anne-Louis Girodet; 1806
Scene from a Deluge of 1806 (fig. 15), Girodet’s figures are as solid and material as they were evanescent in his Ossian, and his new theme is as direct and accessible as it had been hermetic and obscure four years earlier in 1802. The Scene from a Deluge caused a great commotion at the 1806 Salon, and later in 1810, its fame was such that it was awarded the prize for the best picture of the decade, ahead of David’s Sabines. Girodet insisted that the theme of his uncommissioned painting was not a biblical or literary one, but rather a subject that should be thought of more in terms of a contemporary fait divers. In the Deluge five members of a desperate, ill-fated family, all spectacularly appended to one another like daring aerial gymnasts, are on the verge of losing hold and plunging to their deaths in the rising water below. The Deluge is not distinguished by Girodet’s signature traits of aesthetic refinement and poetic fantasy, but on the contrary the picture is unexpectedly vivid, melodramatic and sensational—the original eye-popping, heart-stopping cliff-hanger. From the beginning some critics regretted the introduction of these unorthodox qualities in Girodet’s new Salon painting, and in a particularly severe judgment of the Deluge, David declared the painting a threat to the dignity and idealism of art, that if unchecked, would lead the genre of history painting to the ridiculousness of melodrama. The terrible suspense of the scene centers on the dead tree from which the whole family is acrobatically suspended. The tree has just split and the family’s lot hangs by a thread. Girodet has adapted a head from Michelangelo’s Last Judgment for that of the anguished father. But the effect is decidedly un-Michelangelesque: the father’s wildly exaggerated expression of utter terror is a purely psychological response to an immediate predicament, brought about by a natural catastrophe. His look does not convey true Michelangelesque terribilità, a super human state of inner spiritual torment. Furthermore, the strong feelings of the sublime generated by Girodet’s scene are evoked, as Sylvain Bellenger argues, through an unbearable emotional suspense that violates the laws of classical restraint. Girodet is consciously exploiting the contemporary Parisian mode for melodrama, and his primary goal here is to thrill and terrify his modern Salon audience. After the relative failure of the Ossian in the 1802 Salon, Girodet was undoubtedly determined to prevail at a future Salon, and his huge, four and a half meter high Deluge, with its over-life-size figures, was carefully calculated both to win over and get even with an uncultivated Parisian public he had come to disdain.
Duque de Osuna and Family; Goya; 1788
Family portrait of the ninth Duke of Osuna , Don Pedro Téllez -Girón (1755-1807) and his wife Countess – Duchess of Benavente and Duchess of Osuna, Dona Josefa Alonso Pimentel ( 1752-1834 ) . The Duke wears the uniform of his regiment of brigadier mourning relief at the death of his father ; Duchess , a dress in French fashion decorated with porcelain buttons landscapes. They are accompanied by their four children born to the year 1788 , as Dona Manuela Isidra , the last , and future Duchess of Abrantes , was born in 1794 Don Francisco de Borja ( 1785-1820 ) , future X Duke of Osuna, rides as a children’s game in the baton from his father, as it was to inherit his father ‘s regiments ; Don Pedro de Alcántara (1786-1851) , Prince of Anglona future and first director of the Prado Museum , Royal Museum still sitting on a cushion at the feet of his mother , pulling a float toy ; Dona Josefa Manuela (1783-1817) , future Marquise de Marguini , playing with a puppy, and Dona Joaquina (1784-1851) , the future Marquise de Santa Cruz, leaning on her mother’s lap .The Dukes of Osuna are among the first patrons of Goya , for whom he worked over the years to paint family portraits and cabinet boxes destined for the palace of La Alameda, on the outskirts of Madrid. The family portrait, the second that Goya had painted up then after the monumental portrait Infante Don Luis de Borbon and his family ( Magnani – Rocca Foundation , Parma) , in 1784 , was not common in Spain . The Dukes , illustrated and both the French and English news, Goya could apply this type of portrait in 1788 when Don Pedro Téllez -Girón inherited the duchy of Osuna. Became apparent and their high rank, almost to the level of royalty, and showed while connoisseurs of fashion in other advanced countries .
The Garroted Man; Goya; 1778-1780; Etching-blue ink
an etching done around 1778 is a scathing critique of the ferocious executions of his time. It is made the more virulent by sending back a layman’s echo to the theme of Jesus on the Cross.
The Family of Carlos IV; Francisco Goya; 1800-1801
Charles IV of Spain and His Family is an oil on canvas painting by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya who began work on this painting in 1800 and completed it in the summer of 1801. It features life sized depictions of Charles IV of Spain and his family, ostentatiously dressed in fine costume and jewelry. The painting was modeled after Velázquez’s Las Meninas when setting the royal subjects in a naturalistic and plausible setting.The royal family is apparently paying a visit to the artist’s studio, while Goya can be seen to the left looking outwards towards the viewer. As in “Las Meninas,” the artist is shown working on a canvas, of which only the rear is visible; however, the atmospheric and warm perspective of the palace interior of Velázquez’s work is replaced in the Goya by a sense of, in the words of Gassier, “imminent suffocation” as the royal family are presented by Goya on a “stage facing the public, while in the shadow of the wings the painter, with a grim smile, points and says: ‘Look at them and judge for yourself!'”
Los Chinchillas, No. 50, Los Caprichios; Francisco Goya; 1797-1798
…Los Caprichos are a set of 80 prints in aquatint and etching created by the Spanish artist Francisco Goya in 1797 and 1798, and published as an album in 1799. The prints were an artistic experiment: a medium for Goya’s condemnation of the universal follies and foolishness in the Spanish society in which he lived. The criticisms are far-ranging and acidic; he speaks against the predominance of superstition, the ignorance and inabilities of the various members of the ruling class, pedagogical short-comings, marital mistakes and the decline of rationality. Some of the prints have anticlerical themes. Goya described the series as depicting “the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual”.The work was an enlightened, tour-de-force critique of 18th-century Spain, and humanity in general. The informal style, as well as the depiction of contemporary society found in Caprichos, makes them (and Goya himself) a precursor to the modernist movement almost a century later. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters in particular has attained an iconic status.Goya added brief explanations of each image to a manuscript, now in the Museo del Prado; these help greatly to explain his often cryptic intentions, as do the titles printed below each image.Goya’s series, and the last group of prints in his series The Disasters of War, which he called “caprichos enfáticos” (“emphatic caprices”), are far from the spirit of light-hearted fantasy the term “caprice” usually suggests in art.
The Third of May, 1808; Francisco Goya; 1814
Goya. Based on a true story of guerilla warfare under Napoleon. Romantic aspects: Sensational current event, loose brush work, realistic pose, off-balance composition, dramatic lighting. Three stages of execution, Christ-like pose and white shirt, and a nameless faceless killing machine. Napoleon puts his brother on the throne of SpainIn 1807, Napoleon, bent on conquering the world, brought Spain’s king, Charles IV, into alliance with him in order to conquer Portugal. Napoleon’s troops poured into Spain, supposedly just passing through. But Napoleon’s real intentions soon became clear: the alliance was a trick. The French were taking over. Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, was the new king of Spain.The 2nd and 3rd of May, 1808On May 2, 1808, hundreds of Spaniards rebelled. On May 3, these Spanish freedom fighters were rounded up and massacred by the French. Their blood literally ran through the streets of Madrid. Even though Goya had shown French sympathies in the past, the slaughter of his countrymen and the horrors of war made a profound impression on the artist. He commemorated both days of this gruesome uprising in paintings. Although Goya’s Second of May (above) is a tour de force of twisting bodies and charging horses reminiscent of Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari, his Third of May is acclaimed as one of the great paintings of all time, and has even been called the world’s first modern painting. Death awaitsWe see row of hooded French soldiers aiming their guns at a Spanish man, who stretches out his arms in submission both to the men and to his fate. A country hill behind him takes the place of an executioner’s wall. A pile of dead bodies lies at his feet, streaming blood. To his other side, a line of Spanish rebels stretches endlessly in to the landscape. They cover their eyes to avoid watching the death that they know awaits them. The city and civilization is far behind them. Even a monk, bowed in prayer, will soon be among the dead. Transforming Christian iconographyGoya’s painting has been lauded for its brilliant transformation of Christian iconography and its poignant portrayal of man’s inhumanity to man. The central figure of the painting, who is clearly a poor laborer, takes the place of the Crucified Christ; he is sacrificing himself for the good of his nation. The lantern that sits between him and the firing squad is the only source of light in the painting, and dazzlingly illuminates his body, bathing him in what can be perceived as spiritual light. His expressive face, which shows an emotion of anguish that is more sad than terrified, echoes Christ’s prayer on the cross, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” Close inspection of the victim’s right hand also shows stigmata, referencing the marks made on Christ’s body during the Crucifixion.
(born October 10, 1738, near Springfield, Pennsylvania [U.S.]—died March 11, 1820, London, England), American-born painter of historical, religious, and mythological subjects who had a profound influence on the development of historical painting in Britain. He was historical painter to George III (1772-1801) and a founder of the Royal Academy (1768), of which in 1792 he succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as president.Cymon and Iphigenia, oil on canvas by Benjamin West, 1773; in the Los Angeles County Museum … [Credit: Photograph by Beesnest McClain. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Reese Llewellyn Milner, Mr. and Mrs. Byron E. Vandergrift, George C. Zachary, Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr., and Joseph T. Mendelson, M.82.91]Colonel Guy Johnson and Karonghyontye (Captain David Hill), oil on canvas by Benjamin West, 1776; … [Credit: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1940.1.10]Helen Brought to Paris, oil on canvas by Benjamin West, 1776; in the Smithsonian American … [Credit: Photograph by pohick2. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C., Museum purchase, 1969.33]As a young man, West showed precocious artistic talent and was sent to Philadelphia in 1756 to study painting. At 20 years of age he was a successful portraitist in New York City and in 1760, through the assistance of friends, he sailed for Italy, where Neoclassicism was rapidly gaining ground. West visited most of the leading cities of Italy and in 1763 went to London, where he set up as a portrait painter. His subsequent patronage by George III and the assurance of financial support from the crown absolved him of the necessity to continue to earn a living through portraiture. In London he soon became intimate with Sir Joshua Reynolds and gained widespread popularity. “The Death of General Wolfe” (c. 1771; several versions exist), one of his best-known and—at the time—most controversial works, made a noteworthy concession to realism in its use of modern dress rather than antique drapery to depict a contemporary historical event within a classical composition. It was considered by many academicians to be an affront to the art of history painting, but ultimately it was a popular success and won Reynolds’ approval.Though loyal to America, West retained the king’s friendship and patronage until 1801. In 1802 he visited Paris and exhibited his final sketch for “Death on the Pale Horse” (c. 1802; several versions exist), which anticipated developments in French Romantic painting. He never returned to the United States, but through such pupils as Washington Allston, Gilbert Stuart, Charles Willson Peale, and John Singleton Copley, he exerted considerable influence on the development of art in that country during the first decades of the 19th century.
Jacques Louis David
The art of Jacques Louis David embodies the style known as Neoclassicism, which flourished in France during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. David championed a style of rigorous contours, sculpted forms, and polished surfaces; history paintings, such as his Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons (Musée du Louvre, Paris) of 1789, were intended as moral exemplars. He painted in the service of royalty, radical revolutionaries, and an emperor; although his political allegiances shifted, he remained faithful to the tenets of Neoclassicism, which he transmitted to a generation of students, including Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson, François Gérard, Baron Antoine Jean Gros, and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.The completion in 1814 of David’s monumental history painting, Leonidas at Thermopylae (Louvre), coincided with the fall of Napoleon; not surprisingly, the image of the courageous Spartan king, facing imminent defeat in battle, met with Napoleon’s disapproval in the aftermath of his disastrous Russian campaign. The painting, which David had first conceived in 1798 while working on his Intervention of the Sabine Women (Louvre), evolved over a period that witnessed challenges to the stylistic hegemony of Davidian Neoclassicism. In the revolutionary ferment of the 1790s, several of David’s students had already rebelled against their master, notably Girodet, whom David would later describe as a “lunatic” (in 1810, Girodet would triumph over his former teacher in the competition for the Prize of the Decade, awarded to his painting The Deluge [Louvre]). In his Sleep of Endymion of 1791 (Louvre), Girodet emphatically departs from David’s precedent in his sensual handling of the androgynous figure of Endymion and his choice of a mythological subject devoid of moral value. In the late 1790s, a group of David’s students, known as the Primitifs (Primitives) or Barbus (Bearded Ones), rejected the values of Davidian classicism in favor of an art whose linear purity and simplicity recalled archaic Greek vase painting as well as early Renaissance art.These challenges to the primacy of David’s Neoclassical style set the stage for a radical redefinition of history painting around 1800 in France. Before the Revolution, David’s major history paintings, though often invoked in relation to contemporary events, drew upon subjects from ancient history (2009.423) and distant civilizations (Death of Socrates, 31.45); his approach was in keeping with that of the French Academy, which placed history painting at the top of its hierarchy of subjects while scenes from contemporary life were relegated to the bottom order. However, after 1789, the Revolution and its heroes came to the forefront in the art of David and his contemporaries. Capitalizing on this trend, Napoleon Bonaparte, in his dramatic rise to power, marshaled art in service of his regime and commissioned artists to document contemporary history as it unfolded. He appointed David “First Painter to the Emperor” in 1804 and enlisted many of his pupils to chronicle his triumphs. Gros, who had painted Napoleon as a young general in Italy in 1796, reveals his mastery of the Napoleonic propaganda machine in his Napoleon in the Plague House at Jaffa of 1804 (Louvre), an image from Napoleon’s Middle Eastern campaign. Gros’ portrayal of Napoleon, shown touching the sore of a plague-ridden French soldier, alludes both to images of Christ as healer and the divine touch of kings.Around 1800, while David and many of his pupils were fueling Napoleon’s propaganda machine, a number of artists in his studio turned to France’s medieval past for inspiration. This group of artists from southern France, which included Pierre Révoil, Fleury Richard, and François-Marius Granet, painted small-scale works rendered with a precise, meticulous finish in what became known as the Troubadour style. Their retrospective subjects coincided with the establishment of Alexandre Lenoir’s Musée des Antiquités et Monuments Français, which opened to the public in 1796 and housed the sculpture from French churches that had been saved from destruction during the Revolution. The monastic interiors that became a specialty of the painter Granet evoke the Catholic past enshrined in Lenoir’s museum (2003.42.36). The historicism of the Troubadour style would inform the emerging Romantic aesthetic in the early nineteenth century.In portraiture, the carefully modeled and polished surfaces of works by Gérard, Gros, and Girodet—all students of David—reflect the legacy of their master. In his 1823 portrait of Madame Reizet, Girodet, whose portraits were in great demand, convincingly renders the varying textures of fur, velvet, lace, and flesh, creating a smooth surface with no visible brushwork (1999.101). Yet another Davidian, Ingres, who was briefly in David’s studio in the late 1790s, would transform his master’s Neoclassical portrait model in the nineteenth century (1977.10). While the precise draftsmanship of his portrait drawings attests to his training under David (29.100.191), the stylized contours and anatomical distortions characteristic of his painted portraits subvert David’s model. In his pair of portraits of the Leblancs (19.77.1; 19.77.2), Ingres flattens forms and elongates limbs; such stylized abstractions counter the almost hyperrealism of such fabrics as the cashmere shawl and tulle sleeves. He creates a similar dialogue in his portrait of the princesse de Broglie of 1853 (1975.1.186): the virtuoso rendering of the multiple folds of her silk skirt, the tufted damask chair, and the marabou feathers of her hair ornament counters the mannered elongation of her arms, her seemingly boneless fingers, and her idealized face.By the 1820s, the new Romantic style, with its free handling of paint and expanded repertoire of subjects, offered an alternative to Davidian Neoclassicism. David himself had been exiled to Belgium in 1816, where he died in 1825, and his studio was run by his loyal pupil Gros until his own death in 1835. In pursuing the stylistic alternative that Romanticism offered, French artists looked beyond their borders, emulating British prototypes, particularly in landscape and portraiture. In addition, the boundaries between Neoclassicism and Romanticism blurred, as evidenced in the works of many of David’s own pupils. By 1840, then, the emergence of an artist such as Théodore Chassériau, whose hybrid style fuses Davidian classicism—which he learned in Ingres’ studio—with the Romantic painterliness and exotic subjects of Eugène Delacroix, captures the contradictory stylistic impulses of his generation.
A child prodigy who was producing commissioned portraits in her early teens, Kauffman was trained by her father, the Swiss muralist Johann Joseph Kauffman. During the early 1760s, she traveled through Switzerland, Austria, and Italy working as her father’s assistant. This transient life provided her the rare opportunity for a woman to see and copy many classical and Renaissance masterworks and to meet leaders of the popular new movement known as Neoclassicism.During a three-year stay in Italy, Kauffman made her reputation as a painter of portraits; she also produced history paintings. Recognition of her accomplishments is indicated by her election to Rome’s Accademia di San Luca in 1765. In 1766, Kauffmann moved to London, where she achieved immediate success as a portraitist. Over the next 16 years, she exhibited regularly at the prestigious Royal Academy and worked for a glittering array of aristocratic and royal patrons.In 1781, Kauffman married the painter Antonio Zucchi, who succeeded her father as her business manager. By the time of her death, she had achieved such renown that her funeral was directed by the prominent Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova, who based it on the funeral of the Renaissance master Raphael.
Adélaïde Labille-Guiard was lauded for her skillfully crafted portraits by her early 20s, and she advanced to become a respected member of the French Royal Academy.Despite the inevitable comparisons with Labille-Guiard’s younger, more socially prominent fellow painter Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Lebrun, this talented and ambitious artist worked for numerous royal and aristocratic patrons.In 1783, she won admission to the Academy and was ultimately awarded the title Peintre des Mesdames (painter to the king’s aunts), a government pension, and an apartment at the Louvre.Labille-Guiard studied with several accomplished instructors, learning how to make miniature portraits and work with pastels. She became an influential teacher herself, known for devotion to her female pupils, many of whom went on to establish their own painting careers.A lifelong champion of women’s rights, Labille-Guiard worked toward reforming the Academy’s policies toward women. Unlike Vigée-LeBrun, she supported the French Revolution and remained in Paris during this tumultuous era, winning new patrons and creating portraits of several deputies of the National Assembly. Although she also produced some history paintings, it was with her carefully crafted portraits that Labille-Guiard made her mark.
(1757-1822), the greatest of all Neoclassical sculptors, remains famous above all for the elegant nude mythological subjects that he carved exquisitely in marble. He also worked in a deeply serious, deceptively simple style. This less familiar Canova is revealed in an extraordinary series of full-scale plaster models illustrating episodes from the Old and New Testaments. Such models, used to review his compositions before they were transferred into stone, were a distinctive feature of his sculptural practice. These Biblical scenes were made in connection with a project for thirty-two low reliefs that were to adorn the Tempio Canoviano, the church he built for his home town Possagno, which later became the artist’s mausoleum. He completed only seven models before his death.Six of the reliefs come from the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, and one from the Gipsoteca in Possagno. Newly restored, they are being lent for the first time to the United States. Drawing inspiration from ancient sculpture and early Renaissance masters, the models are striking for the marked linearity of the figures, arranged in brilliantly syncopated compositions. They constitute Canova’s last, profoundly moving masterworks.
Joseph Wright of Derby
The effects of light fascinated Joseph Wright of Derby. An attorney’s son, he trained as a portrait painter in London, but he returned to Derby, the first major English painter to build his career outside the capital. With scientific experiments a source of general fascination, his meticulously painted figure groups in dark interiors illuminated by candles or lamps carried his reputation to London. His dramatic contrasts of light and shade showed the influence of artists like Gerrit van Honthorst and Rembrandt van Rijn, but Wright invented the scientific Enlightenment subject: scenes of experiments, new machinery, and the leaders of the Industrial Revolution. In 1773, Wright went to Italy. Vesuvius’s volcanic eruption and Rome’s annual fireworks display impressed him, and he began to understand how his interest in light sources could combine with landscape painting. Returning to Derby in 1777, he found a steady stream of portrait clients, whom he satisfied with more penetrating characterizations, more complex iconography, more subdued coloring, and, frequently, literary themes. With the leisure to choose subjects, he increasingly painted landscapes, seeking truthful observation of nature, including rock formations or effects of light and atmosphere, without sacrificing aesthetic values like poetry, beauty, drama, and composition.
Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, in full Marie-Louise-Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Lebrun also spelled LeBrun or Le Brun (born April 16, 1755, Paris, France—died March 30, 1842, Paris), French painter, one of the most successful women artists (unusually so for her time), particularly noted for her portraits of women.Her father and first teacher, Louis Vigée, was a noted portraitist who worked chiefly in pastels. In 1776 she married an art dealer, J.-B.-P. Lebrun. Her great opportunity came in 1779 when she was summoned to Versailles to paint a portrait of Queen Marie-Antoinette. The two women became friends, and in subsequent years Vigée-Lebrun painted more than 20 portraits of Marie-Antoinette in a great variety of poses and costumes. She also painted a great number of self-portraits, in the style of various artists whose work she admired. (The self-portrait that illustrates this article was painted in the style of Peter Paul Rubens and was inspired by his portrait of his sister-in-law, Suzanne Lunden.) In 1783, because of her friendship with the queen, Vigée-Lebrun was grudgingly accepted into the Royal Academy.On the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, she left France and for 12 years lived abroad, traveling to Rome, Naples, Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, painting portraits and playing a leading role in society. In 1801 she returned to Paris but, disliking Parisian social life under Napoleon, soon left for London, where she painted portraits of the court and of Lord Byron. Later she went to Switzerland (and painted a portrait of Mme de Staël) and then again (c. 1810) to Paris, where she continued to paint until her death.Vigée-Lebrun was a woman of much wit and charm, and her memoirs, Souvenirs de ma vie (1835-37; “Reminiscences of My Life”; Eng. trans. Memoirs of Madame Vigée Lebrun), provide a lively account of her life and times. She was one of the most technically fluent portraitists of her era, and her pictures are notable for freshness, charm, and sensitivity of presentation. During her career, according to her own account, she painted 900 pictures, including some 600 portraits and about 200 landscapes.
Antoine-Jean, Baron Gros
Gros received his first art training from his father, who was a painter of miniatures. In 1785 he entered the studio of his father’s friend Jacques-Louis David, whom he revered but whose cerebral Neoclassical style was uncongenial to Gros’s romantically passionate nature. As a student he was more influenced by the energetic brushwork and colour of Peter Paul Rubens and the Venetians than the hard linearism of his contemporary Neoclassicists.Bonaparte on the Bridge at Arcole, 17 November 1796, oil on canvas by … [Credit: © Photos.com/Jupiterimages]In 1793, with David’s help, Gros went to Italy, where, in Genoa, he met Joséphine de Beauharnais and, through her, his hero, Napoleon. In 1796 he followed the French army to Arcole and was present when Napoleon planted the French flag on the bridge. This incident he immortalized in his first major work, Napoleon on the Bridge at Arcole (1796). Napoleon bestowed on him the rank of inspecteur aux revues. He accompanied Napoleon on his campaigns and also helped select works of art from Italy for the Louvre.Napoleon Visiting the Pesthouse at Jaffa, oil on canvas by Antoine-Jean Gros, 1804; in the … [Credit: Garanger]Napoleon on the Battlefield at Eylau, February 1807, oil painting by … [Credit: © Photos.com/Jupiterimages]Of all the artists who contributed to the Napoleonic myth, Gros had the most profound effect on the rising generation of Romantic painters. The elegance, richness, and dramatic power of such historical paintings as Napoleon Visiting the Pesthouse at Jaffa (1804) and Napoleon on the Battlefield at Eylau, February 1807 (1808) influenced Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix.After the fall of Napoleon and the restoration of the Bourbons (who gave Gros the title of baron), David was forced into exile and Gros became the head of his studio. As the heir of Neoclassicism, Gros tried to work in a style closer to that of David. He continued to paint large compositions—e.g., the ceiling of the Egyptian room of the Louvre (c. 1824)—but these academically Neoclassical pictures lacked the Romantic vitality of his earlier historical paintings. His best works after 1815 were portraits, some of which approached the quality of his Napoleonic pictures—e.g., Young Girl in a Necklace (exhibited 1913). He was, however, continually plagued by David’s criticism of his work and became increasingly dissatisfied with his own accomplishments. A sense of failure exacerbated his already melancholic nature, and he committed suicide.
Raised in Rome, Neoclassical painter François Gérard acquired a love of Italian painting that informed his art for life. Returning to Paris around 1782, he studied under such artists as sculptor Augustin Pajou and painter Jacques-Louis David, who hired him as assistant in 1791.By 1793, with both parents dead and taking full responsibility for his youngest brother, Gérard earned a living by illustrating folio editions of literature. Miniature painter Jean-Baptiste Isabey helped him repeatedly, most importantly by commissioning a portrait that launched Gérard’s reputation as a society portraitist in 1796. Praised for their naturalism and brilliant characterizations, Gérard’s portraits gained Napoleon’s attention and court favor rivaling even David. For historical and mythological subjects, Gérard based his style on David’s Neoclassicism but infused it with a dreamlike quality.Politically flexible, Gérard was honored by all of the vastly differing regimes following the French Revolution of 1789, including being made a baron by Louis XVIII. Years later, a critic’s enthusiasm remained typical: “What matter that he is first painter to the king? He is the king of first painters.”
Anne-Louis Girodet, original name Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy, in full (after 1806) Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson (born January 29, 1767, Montargis, France—died December 9, 1824, Paris), painter whose works exemplify the first phase of Romanticism in French art.Girodet began to study drawing in 1773. He later became a student of the Neoclassical architect Étienne-Louis Boullée, with whose encouragement he joined the studio of Jacques-Louis David in late 1783 or early 1784. Girodet won the Prix de Rome (1789) for his Joseph Recognized by His Brothers, which shows the influence of David’s Neoclassicism. In The Sleep of Endymion (1792) Girodet displays a new emotional element akin to the troubled Romanticism of the novelist Chateaubriand. Girodet gave his literary interests full reign in the composition of Ossian and the French Generals (1801), painted for Napoleon’s residence, Malmaison. This unusual work melds images inspired by James Macpherson’s Ossianic works with images of the spirits of the generals who died during the French Revolution of 1789. Girodet continued to paint literary subjects in such works as The Entombment of Atala (1808). The latter picture, together with a windswept portrait of Chateaubriand meditating before the Roman Colosseum (1809), is most typical of his work.In 1806 Girodet was adopted by and took the name of Benoît-François Trioson, who was his tutor and guardian and probably his biological father. Upon inheriting a large fortune (1815), Girodet-Trioson painted little, shuttered himself from daylight, and wrote poetry about painting, adjudged unreadable, and essays on aesthetics. The Musée Girodet in Montargis contains many of his paintings and drawings.
Constance Marie Charpentier
(born 1767 Paris, France – 3 August 1849 France) was a French painter. She specialized in genre scenes and portraits, mainly of children and women. She was also known as Constance Marie Bondelu.Records of Charpentier’s training are unclear, but she might have studied with numerous artists. She is typically believed to have studied with the acclaimed French painter Jacques-Louis David, but may also have been a pupil of François Gérard, Pierre Bouillon, Louis Lafitte, and either Johann Georg Wille or his son, Pierre-Alexandre Wille.In 1788 she received a ‘Prix d’Encouragement.’ From 1795 to 1819 she exhibited approximately thirty painting at various Salons, winning a gold medal in 1814 at the Paris Salon and a silver medal in 1821 at the Salon at Douai.It is believed that some of Charpentier’s works were incorrectly attributed to her teacher, David. The well-known painting Young Woman Drawing (1801) was incorrectly attributed first to David, then to Charpentier, and is now believed to be the work of Marie-Denise Villers. Based on surviving, positively identified works by Charpentier, she is considered one of the finest portrait painters of her era.
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) is regarded as the most important Spanish artist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Over the course of his long career, Goya moved from jolly and lighthearted to deeply pessimistic and searching in his paintings, drawings, etchings, and frescoes. Born in Fuendetodos, he later moved with his parents to Saragossa and, at age fourteen, began studying with the painter José Luzán Martínez (1710-1785). In 1746, the year of Goya’s birth, the Spanish crown was under the rule of Ferdinand VI. Subsequently, the Bourbon king Charles III (r. 1759-88) ruled the country as an enlightened monarch sympathetic to change, employing ministers who supported radical economic, industrial, and agricultural reform. Goya came to artistic maturity during this age of enlightenment. In Madrid, the painter brothers Francisco (1734-1795) and Ramón Bayeu y Subías (1746-1793) had set up shop in 1763 and Goya soon joined their studio, eventually marrying their sister Josefa. He visited Italy in 1770, after two failed attempts in drawing competitions at the Real Academia des Bellas Artes in San Fernando.Over the course of his long career, Goya moved from jolly and lighthearted to deeply pessimistic and searching in his paintings, drawings, etchings, and frescoesGoya’s introduction to the royal workshops, a relationship that lasted the rest of his life and spanned four ruling monarchies, began in 1774. The German painter Anton Raphael Mengs asked Goya to work on tapestry cartoons, or preliminary paintings, for the Royal Tapestry Factory at Santa Bárbara. Goya painted sixty-three cartoons for two royal palaces, which included nine hunting scenes for the dining room at San Lorenzo del Escorial, and ten cartoons for tapestries destined for the dining room at El Pardo. The tapestries glorify leisure activities of the rich, poor, young, and old in a playful Rococo manner comparable to the style of Tiepolo. The Blind Guitarist (22.63.29) was originally designed for the antechamber at El Pardo and comes from this genre. The tapestry weavers, frustrated by its complex composition, returned the cartoon to Goya. However, before simplifying it, Goya preserved the original design in a copperplate etching, the largest print he ever made. Las Meninas (promised gift) is one of a group of etchings completed by Goya based on paintings by Velázquez. Goya made these etchings upon Mengs’s suggestion that he study Velázquez portraits in the royal collection.As Goya continued to move in circles of royal patronage, he received more commissions from the aristocracy. Between 1785 and 1788, he painted executives and their families from the Bank of San Carlos, including the count of Altamira. The Condesa de Altamira and Her Daughter (1975.1.148) shows his skill at capturing the sensitivity of the sitters and his mastery of a painterly technique, which portrays in broad brushstrokes the brilliance of fine clothing and other accoutrements of wealth. Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga (49.7.41), a portrait of the Altamiras’ third son, shows Goya’s interest in surface pattern and the play of light; the caged birds symbolize the innocence of youth. In a later child’s portrait of astonishing emotional evocation (61.259), the symbolism alludes to Spain’s military struggle with France.At the age of forty, Goya was appointed painter to King Charles III, and, in 1789, he was promoted to court painter under the newly accessioned Charles IV (r. 1788-1808). The year 1789 also marked the fall of French monarchy (with Charles IV unwilling to assist his cousin Louis XVI), and in 1793 France declared war on Spain. Around this time, Goya traveled to Cádiz in Andalusia with Sebastián Martínez y Pérez, a wealthy businessman and art collector. Goya’s remarkable portrait of his friend (06.289) captures the subject’s likeness and intensity by emphasizing his personal expression, inner character, and humanity. His social standing is conveyed in his demeanor and the quality of his clothing, and his role as an astute collector of books, prints, and paintings is suggested by the sheet of paper in his hand.Having survived an extended period of illness in Cádiz, Goya emerged months later completely deaf, but able to return to Madrid in 1793. In 1799, he completed and published a suite of eighty allegorical etchings called the Caprichos; Out Hunting for Teeth (18.64.12) and The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (18.64.43) are two etchings from this series. They introduce a world of witches, ghosts, and fantastic creatures that invade the mind, particularly during dreams, nightmarish visions symbolizing a world against reason. That same year, Goya was promoted by the crown to first court painter and spent the next two years working on a large-scale portrait of the family of Charles IV (Museo del Prado, Madrid). Harking back to the compositions of Velázquez, Goya placed the royal family in the foreground and, in the background, himself at an easel. The painting is simultaneously a depiction of a united, strong, and regal monarchy, and a shockingly naturalistic—in some cases even grotesque—group portrait.Goya, Napoleon, and Nineteenth-Century SpainThe enlightened monarchy of Charles IV came to an end when Napoleon’s armies invaded Spain in 1808. The brutal incursion—which included mass executions of Spanish citizens who rose up in opposition to Napoleon’s invasion—culminated in French occupation and the installation of Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the Spanish throne. Although repulsed by French atrocities, Goya pledged allegiance to Bonaparte, and painted members of the French regime. In 1811, he was awarded the Royal Order of Spain.The Bourbon monarchy was restored with Napoleon’s fall in 1814. But the new king, Ferdinand VII, son of Charles IV, did not share the enlightened views of his predecessor. He revoked the Constitution, reinstated the Inquisition, and declared himself absolute monarch. Not long afterward, he launched a reign of terror. Questioned about his loyalty to the occupiers, Goya demonstrated his allegiance by commemorating Spain’s uprising against the French regime in two paintings: The Second of May 1808 and The Third of May 1808 (both Museo del Prado). In the first, Goya depicts a brutal scene in Madrid’s city center, the Puerta del Sol, where Spaniards fought against French-led soldiers on horseback. The second work illustrates the execution of captured Spaniards on the Príncipe Pío, a hill just outside Madrid at that time. The paintings exemplify the dark tonalities and fluid brushstrokes representative of Goya’s later period, as well as the stylistic influences of Velázquez and Rembrandt.Goya continued his account of the atrocities of war in a series of eighty-five prints called The Disasters of War. Executed from 1810 to 1820, the series depicts the travesties witnessed during Spain’s struggle for independence from France. Unlike the Caprichos, this series was never published during Goya’s lifetime, probably because of its pronounced indictment of war. One Can’t Look (188.8.131.52), an etching from the series, is a powerful and emotionally charged scene of French occupation and Spanish retaliation that recalls the painting The Third of May 1808. The innovative composition—critical elements are placed outside the picture plane and the immediate action is forced to the foreground—amplifies the overall impact. Although Goya’s graphic work is grounded in the dramatic Baroque tradition of contrasting lights and darks, recalling Tiepolo’s war scenes and Rembrandt’s etchings, The Disasters of War etchings employ the tradition within a unique compositional framework.Having no royal commissions during the tumultuous monarchy of Ferdinand VII, Goya became isolated from political and intellectual life in Madrid. Between 1820 and 1823, he completed a series of very private works in fresco at his small country retreat, Quinta del Sordo (the Deaf Man’s House). Today referred to as the Black Paintings, they are compelling in their sinister and often horrifying scenes with dark, emotional undertones.Dissatisfied with political developments in Spain, Goya retired to Bordeaux in 1824 under the guise of seeking medical advice. His final years were spent there and in Paris.