Ralph Larmann

Art Department

University of Evansville

back to: Chapter 5 Reason and Revolution

There was a concerted move by Louis XIV to "rationalize" his reign and make associations to the former Holy Roman Emperorship. After all, Charlemagne, one of his predecessors, had been crowned "King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor" in 800 AD. Louis made these associations by surrounding himself and his court with all things "Classical." He established the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture to make the focus of art in France one which was also based on "Classical" forms. Classical ideas had created the foundation for Western thought, morality, and society. It also indicated that his reign was built on lofty ideals.In principle this may have been true, but Louis lived extravagantly, building the palace at Versailles with its sprawling gardens. He also spared no expense in his affairs of State, hoping to influence visiting dignitaries.

Louis also took control of France's political aristocracy by forcing them to live at Versailles. This insured that they would be following his direction by helping to promote his Classical vision.

Embarkation for the Island of Cythera
French Rococo
oil on canvas
by Antoine Watteau


-sometimes called the style of Louis XV (15th)
-identified with Rubenists (color) not Poussinists (classical line and subject)

Antoine Watteau (1684-1721)
-first Rococo artist to be accepted by the French Academy
-supported by aristocratic families
-fete galante was a new category of painting included for Watteau at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture
-fete galante was a scene of elegant entertainment

A Pilgrimage to Cythera, 1717, oil on canvas, 4'3"x 6'4"
-a fete galante scene of aristocrats visiting the island of Cythera which was reputed to be home of an ancient cult who worshipped the mythological love goddess Cythera.
-more airy and light is less diffused than Baroque
-reflection of French aristocracy engaging in open air entertainment
-reflection of the decentralized nobility in France under Louis XV

Jean Honore Fragonard
The Swing, 1766, oil on canvas, 35"x 32"

Francois Boucher
-more Classical, less drama than Baroque

Oath of the Horatii
French Neoclassicism
oil on canvas
by Jacques-Louis David

Death of Marat
French Neoclassicism
oil on canvas
by Jacques-Louis David

American Neoclassic ism
by Thomas Jefferson


-artistic style associated with the French Revolution
-renewed interest in Classical ideas and ideals
-reflected honor, order, stability
-used by Napoleon to associate himself with Roman Emperors

More serious in its nature, a reaction against Rococo and the morals of Louis XV
-Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot both spoke of a need for art that contains a "moralizing" message. Rousseau was also famous for his "noble savage" treatise.

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
-politically active in the French Revolution
-member of the Jacobin Party
-staged outdoor festivals and political rallies including Marat visitation
painted Classical themes like "Death of Socrates" to incite nationalism and identify with Classical ideals.

Oath of the Horatii- 1784-5, oil on canvas, 14'x 11'
-reflects "republican" ideas of government, counter to monarchy
-symbolizes loyalty at any cost
-stable and orderly, many verticals in the painting reflect this attitude

Death of Marat- 1793, oil on canvas, 5'3"x 4'1"
-shows a political event of the time, a murder of the writer Marat by Charlotte Corday, a more conservative supporter of the revolution.
-raises a political figure to status of political "martyr"

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)

-was government-appointed painter for Napoleon.

Grande Odalisque- 1814, oil on canvas, 3'x 5'4"
-from oda, referring to a harem room
-figure is slightly distorted to accommodate composition

United States
-Neoclassicism was also used in the architecture and art of the US to show solidity, and order, this was a way of creating the image of a stable government. This was exemplified in the sculpture of George Washington as Socrates by Horatio Greenough.

Thomas Jefferson (1769-84)

Monticello- 1769-84, Charlottesville, VA
-means "Little Mountain" in Italian
-done in Classical style to create associations to Greece and Rome
architect of the University of Virginia

Raft of the Medusa
French Romantic ism
oil on canvas
by Theodore Gericault

Liberty Leading the People
French Romantic ism
oil on canvas
by Eugene Delacroix

Executions on the Third of May, 1808
French Romantic ism
oil on canvas
by Goya


-ideas set "long ago in far away places"
-encompassed a variety of past styles
-considered first modern art movement

Edmund Burke
-philosopher and social critic who wrote about the "sublime"
-he saw unfinished and preparatory works as superior to finished works because they allowed a viewer to include their own thoughts

Theodore Gericault (1791-1824)
-paintings reveal an interest in psychology and political revolt
-loosely painted paintings give more emotion and depth to characters

Raft of the Medusa, 1819, oil on canvas, 16'x 23'6"
-about a real life tragedy that involved a ship wrecked at sea and its survivors
-symbol of political injustice because the captain, who was appointed by Napoleon, abandoned the ship and left the 149 passengers one small raft
-Gericault researched this painting by interviewing survivors of this event
-colorist like Rubens

Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863)
-colorist who uses energetic scenes
-scenes of Algeria and references to the "exotic" like Ingres

Liberty Leading the People, 1830, oil on canvas, 8'6"x 10'7"
-politically-motivated painting
-full of symbolism with people rising up in a spontaneous revolt
-not a real scene, but based on a real event
-colorist tendencies and composition

Death of Sardanapalus, 1826, oil on canvas

Arabs Skirmishing in the Mountains, c. 1834, oil on canvas

Francisco de Goya
-Spanish court painter who worked with psychological subjects

Executions on the Third of May, 1808, 1814, oil on canvas, 8'9"x 11'4"
-historical scene of French soldiers killing Spaniards near Madrid
-mood created with color and rhythms in the composition

Prints: Etchings include a series called the "Horrors of War"
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, 1797-98, etching

Romantic Landscape Painting
-reflects a Romantic view of the landscape portrayed in a nostalgic way
-painters active in Europe and US worked in portrayals of landscape
-significant painters included: Constable, Friedrich, and Turner

The Pre-Raphaellite Brotherhood
Believed in the responsibility of art to inspire high moral values. They believed that the art made before Raphael was more pure, because it did not rely heavily on conventions and saw Raphael's work as too theatrical. Some artists of this movement were Ford Madox Brown, Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rosetti.

Next study guide: Chapter 7

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