Remember: Neoclassicism was a movement begun primarily by one very influential man: Johann Winckelmann. He worked for Cardinal Albani in Rome as a secretary and librarian. The Cardinal had a massive collection of antiquities—Greek and Roman art. Winckelmann published a pamphlet, Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Work in Painting and Sculpture that was enormously influential. In this pamphlet Winckelmann 1. attacked Rococo as “decadent” ( Count d’Angiviller actually banned indecent nudity from the Salon of 1775) and 2. argued that only through the imitation of classical models could art become great once again. François Boucher The Bath of Venus 1751
Neoclassicism is the name given to a Western movement in the decorative and visual arts and architecture that drew inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece and Rome. 18th-century Neoclassical art responded to the perceived excesses of the contemporary Rococo style with a greater restraint in composition and severity of line. Neoclassical architecture emulated both classical and Renaissance (see Alberti’s façade of Sant’Andrea, Mantua, 1470) structures, emphasizing order and simplicity. The subject-matter of Neoclassical art and literature was inspired by the emphasis on martial (military) courage recorded in the Greek and Latin epics (The Illiad, The Odyssey). Neoclassicism
Jacques-Louis David The Oath of the Horatii 1784 oil on canvas, 330 x 425 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris
Jacques-Louis David The Oath of the Horatii According to the story, during the early republican period of Rome (before Cesar), Rome and Alba had been at war for some time, when the two city-states decided to resolve the conflict by having the three best soldiers from each side fight to the death. The three Roman sons of Horace—the Horatii—would fight against the Curatii (Alba). Significantly, the women in the image have conflicting ties: one (Sabina in the middle) is a sister of one of the Curatii but is married to a Horatii; the other, Camilla is engaged to a Curatii. How would you as the viewer, describe the posture of the men compared to the posture of the women? the men: stoic, willing to sacrifice themselves for the State the women: their primary commitment is to their families and familial bonds
Jacques-Louis David The Oath of the Horatii 1784 This work is an excellent example of Neoclassicism— perhaps “the example.” Why? This image represents a fictional event. Louis XVI (and France’s minister of the arts Count d’Angiviller) believed that art should improve public morals. What is this image meant to teach he viewer?
Jacques-Louis David The Oath of the Horatii 1784 The Oath of the Horatii was a royal commission, yet the image was soon appropriated by the French Revolution of 1789—particularly by the Jacobians who ruthlessly executed all opponents. What then is this image meant to teach the viewer?
Jacques-Louis David The Oath of the Horatii 1784 Is The Oath of the Horatii a new secular version of… Rembrandt Sacrifice of Isaac 1635
David regarded this painting as his manifesto— a public declaration of his artistic principles and intentions
Angelica Kauffmann Cornelia Pointing to Her Children as Her Treasures 1785 …under Cornelia’s loving care, the sons, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, grew up to be political reformers….the message: be a good mother!
Benjamin West The Death of General Wolfe 1770 oil on canvas
History Paintings What is the purpose? To represent the argument of the patron?
West made this image about a decisive battle fought at Quebec City in 1759 almost ten years later. What is West trying to argue about the British army to England in The Death of General Wolfe? What has West deliberately altered to dramatize the moment and create a sense of heightened response in the viewer?
Answer: Wolfe has sacrificed himself for the good of the state—for Britain in it’s battle for territory against the French Answer: Wolfe dies in the middle of the entire British army (not under a tree with a few attendants); Wolfe dies under a dramatic sky that (in a moment of pathetic fallacy) seems dark with grief (and the smoke from the battle); West throws in a Native-American to add an element of the “exotic” even thought the Native-Americans fought on the French side…
Benjamin West The Death of General Wolfe 1770 oil on canvas
John Trumbull The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775 1786 oil on canvas
Trumbull made this image about a decisive battle fought at Breed’s Hill in 1786 almost ten years later. The Americans lost the battle after three attacks at Breed’s Hill; the Americans ran out of gunpowder. The British gained Breed’s Hill but lost 1,000 men—three times as many as the Americans lost. Notice that in the image British Major John Small keeps Warren from being bayoneted. British Major John Pitcairn falls dying. British Generals Howe and Clinton charge up the hill. American General Putnam leads a retreat. Lieutenant Grosvenor (from Connecticut) is wounded in chest and hand—reacts to Warren’s death.
Lieutenant Grosvenor (from Connecticut) reacts to Warren’s death. British Major John Small British Generals Howe and Clinton charge up the hill. British Major John Pitcairn falls dying.American General Putnam leads a retreat.
1.What is Trumbull trying to argue to a new country—a fledgling democracy-- in The Death of General Warren? 2.What is the purpose of this work? 3.How has Trumbull deliberately structured the scene to dramatize the moment and create a sense of heightened response in the viewer? 4.How many important personages are crammed in this scene? 5.Is this work Neoclassical in nature?
John Singleton Copley Samuel Adams c. 1770-1772 Oil on canvas March 5, 1770—the Boston Massacre (really a street fight between colonial ruffians and British soldiers); the day after, Adams demanded that Governor Hutchinson—the representative of the crown—remove all British troops from the city of Boston. This image was painted shortly after the event. What is Copley trying to argue to the colonialists?
John Singleton Copley Samuel Adams with his left hand, Adams points to the charter granted tp Massachusetts by King Williams and Queen Mary in the other hand he tightly holds the petition prepared by the aggrieved citizens of Boston the defiant stance and emphatic gesture are meant to convey the moral force of his reasonable demands note the direct gaze This man is not a servant of the crown: he is a citizen.
Jacques-Louis David The Death of Marat 1793 oil on canvas, approx 5’ x 4’ A supreme example of both Neoclassicism as well as history painting…Why? Jean-Paul Marat was a radical pamphleteer (a writer of incendiary pamphlets) for the Jacobians (the egalitarian democrats who presided over the reign of terror— remember Robespierre?). He was murdered by Charlotte Corday. With a knife. In his bath.
Jacques-Louis David The Death of Marat 1793 oil on canvas, approx 5’ x 4’ This work constructs Marat as an iconic figure of the French Revolution: he is at once like a classical god and a religious martyr.
Jacques-Louis David Head of the Dead Marat 1793 Pen, black and brown ink, 270 x 210 mm Musée National du Château, Versailles
Jacques-Louis David The Death of Socrates 1787 A supreme example of both Neoclassicism as well as history painting…Why? Socrates's followers encouraged him to flee, and citizens expected him to do so and were probably not averse to it; but he refused on principle. Apparently in accordance with his philosophy of obedience to law, he carried out his own execution, by drinking the hemlock provided to him. Socrates died at the age of 70.
Jean-Baptiste Greuze Septimius Severus and Caracalla 1769 oil on canvas
What are the proper subjects of large scale paintings? 1.important scenes from history 2.scenes from The Bible 3.mythological scenes The very fact that these paintings are large signals that they are indeed important.
Gustave Courbet Burial at Ornans 1849-50 oil on canvas, approx. 10’ x 20’ This work by Courbet was intended as a “history” painting, but the subject of this painting is the burial of a lower middle class person….not a hero…the public was outraged by Courbet’s audacity….