Baroque 1)Rococo was a style preeminently evident in small works such as furniture, utensils, and small sculptures. Rococo is the last style of the French monarchies and was carefree and playful. Rococo art centered on romance and love and emphasized tonality, softness and rich colors. Rococo art contrasted Baroque art as it tended to avoid heroic events and religious iconography and emphasized Hedonism. The word Rococo derives from Rocaille, which means shell, and Rococo art used curvaceous, swirling forms.
Watteau’s “Return from Cythera” features well drawn figures that show slow movement from difficult and unusual angles, to show poised and refined albums. Watteau’s choice of colors are bright and show the iridescence of materials. The significance of this painting is that behind the theme of love and happiness, is wistfulness and melancholy, unusual in Rococo art. Boucher’s “Cupid a Captive” is significant in its full range of Baroque devices; crisscrossing diagonals, curvilinear forms and slanting recessions, but also that he dissected the Baroque curves into sensual playfulness.
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Fragonard’s “The Swing” is a typical “intrigue” picture and is a classic example of Rococo art. It shows Fragonard’s skills as a colorist and his talent in conveying sensuality. The Enlightenment was a new way of thinking about the world and humankind and was based on using reason to reflect on the results of physical experiments and was grounded in empirical evidence. Philosophy, society, science and technology played important roles in the Enlightenment. Philosophy was rediscovered and was believed that the accumulation of knowledge could advance humanity to a happier state than ever before.
Science and technology progressed, as the thirst for knowledge grew larger. The human body was at the center of study and dissections were done for scientific progress for the practice of surgeons and physicians. Electricity, steam power, and combustion led to the Industrial Revolution and technology took off. All these changes altered society and modernity was brought to importance. Derby’s “A Philosopher Giving a Lecture at the Orrery” is significant in its depiction of a scholar introducing the theory of the placements of the planets and its qualities of a grand “history painting. The painting is exciting and appropriately in tune with the future. The lighting used in Derby’s painting is similar to that used in Carravagio’s “Conversion of Saint Paul”, the light emanating from a hidden source. Derby may have been alluding to Divine Light, but ironically, as the light is coming from a source that is founded in science. Vigee- Lebrun’s “Self Portrait” is significant with her naturalistic approach and the force of her gaze in her portrait. Her stance is self-confident, like an earlier portrait by Judith Leyster.
She stares straight at her viewers and shows off her skill and social stance. 2)Neoclassicism was the renewed interest in classical antiquity that became a movement that incorporated the subjects and styles of ancient art. A fascination with Greek and Roman culture was widespread and extended to the public and became ideal models during a period of great political upheaval. Jacques-Louis David’s “Oath of the Horatii” was a milestone in his career and depicts a story from pre-Republican Rome and shows a story of conflict between love and patriotism.
The message being shown to the French public was clear and became a revolutionary statement and created a program for arousing his audience to patriotic zeal. In France at the time, revolution was in full swing and a large political upheaval was in full swing and French patriotism and David presented the events of the French revolution in his paintings. David’s “Death of Marat” was a depiction of the murder of Jean-Paul Marat, a revolutionary radical and writer. David portrayed Marat as a revolutionary martyr who died in service of his state and is painted to be amazingly real. Death of Marat” became an “altarpiece” for the new civic “religion” and inspired viewers with the saintly dedication of their slain leader. Napoleon Bonaparte had an interest in Neoclassicism and embraced all links to the classical past. Napoleon approached David and offered him the position of First Painter of the Empire and commissioned David to paint depictions of Napoleon’s pageantries. Napoleonic architecture also served as an excellent vehicle for consolidating authority and to embrace a more streamlined classicism.
Ingres’ “Grande Odalisque” is a painting of a traditional nude with a rather startling mix of elements. Ingres’ subject went back to Titian and Giorgione, the female head is in the style of Raphael, the proportions and cool color scheme are reflections of Mannerist painters, and the painting of a member of a Turkish harem is a concession to the Romantic taste for the exotic. The mix of these themes was significant in it’s transience between Neoclassicism and the rising Romanticism.
Romanticism emerged from a desire for freedom, all freedoms, and those who affiliated with freedom believed that the path to freedom was through imagination. Romanticism was an interest in the medieval period and in the sublime. The Romantic vision stretched to the nightmarish qualities of the Middle Ages and calculative art turned to intuitive art and subjective emotions. Fuseli and Blake are often classified as Romantic artists as they painted the macabre and the oddly perverse. They painted the nightmarish visions of their own imaginations, classic Romantic styles. )Goya’s “The Third of May” is a painting of the tragic event of the French executing Spanish citizens in retaliation to the Spanish attacking Napoleonic soldiers. Goya showed the emotionalism of the event by making the wall of soldiers anonymous faces and by painting the cowering and horrified expressions of the Spanish peasants, one man throwing his arms out in a cruciform gesture. The significance in this painting lies in Goya’s choice for dramatic lighting and his extended timeframe.
Gericault’s “Raft of the Medusa” is a depiction of an actual historic event, though he abandoned the idealism of Neoclassicism and invoked the theatricality of Romanticism. The sheer size of this painting adds to the significance of this painting. The emotions and tragedy of this painting are Romantic, though the accuracy is impressive. Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” captures the passion and energy of the French Revolution and shows the urgency of the struggle.
Delacroix included a recognizable Parisian landmark (Notre Dame) to the specify the locale and event to balance contemporary historical fact with poetic allegory. Photography began to develop towards the mid-to-end of the 19th century with the invention of the camera. Daguerre and Henry Fox Talbot are credited for the first practical photographic processes and the relative ease of the process was a dream come true for scientists and artists as they could finally record and capture accurate images of their subjects.
Photography challenged the traditional modes of pictorial representation originated in the Renaissance. Some artists, like Degas, welcomed photography as an auxiliary to painting. Others saw photography as a mechanism that would displace the painstaking work of skilled painters. They saw photography as negative as it would challenge the exclusive property of painting. The daguerreotype process, named for Daguerre, was an easier process and the process of documenting life became easier and more accessible to the public, although the exposure time was long.