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Compare and contrast two works from two different movements in this module: realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, NeoClassicism or another that you are interested in.
Think about these artists in relation to your own culture. Try to pose an interesting question about the work and your thoughts around it.
No AI or plagiarism… This will be checked.
Around 250 words or more.
Everything will be attached.
Compare and contrast two works from two different movements in this module: realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, NeoClassicism or another that you are interested in. Think about these artists in relat
European and American Art in the 18th and 19th Centuries Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form Photography Development of Photography Camera photography was invented in the first decades of the 19th century. Learning Objectives Create a timeline of the development of photography throughout the 19th century Key Takeaways Key Points A photograph is created when light falls on a light-sensitive surface. Before the first camera was ever invented, Chinese and Greek philosophers described the ” pinhole camera.” Nicephore Niepce was a French inventor known for producing the first permanent photoetching in 1822. Daguerre invented the Daguerrotype in 1837. Many chemical and physical photographic advances were made throughout the mid-19th century including the invention of the cyanotype, ambrotype, tintype, and negative on albumen. Photography represents the first instance of an artistic medium being used widely by the masses as a mode of visual expression. The American Civil War (1861–65) was the first war in American history to be photographically documented. Photographs in the first half of the 19th century were very expensive to produce. In the 1860s, a series of cheaper photographic technologies allowed for the middle class to take part in commissioning and purchasing photographs. Key Terms calotype: An early photographic process introduced in 1841 by William Henry Fox Talbot that used paper coated with silver iodide; also known as a talbotype photoetching: A photolithographic etching process. It uses light to transfer a geometric pattern from a photomask to a light-sensitive chemical on the substrate. cyanotype: An early photographic process employing paper sensitized with a cyanide. ambrotype: An early type of photograph in which a glass negative appears positive when displayed on a black background. camera obscura: A darkened chamber in which the image of an outside object is projected and focused onto a surface. tintype: A mid-19th century photographic technology that created a direct positive image onto a thin piece of tin. daguerreotype: An early type of photograph created by exposing a silver-coated copper surface previously exposed to either iodine vapor or iodine and bromine vapors. Background The word “photograph” is based on the Greek phos meaning light and graphe meaning drawing, together meaning drawing with light. Essentially, a photograph is created when a light-sensitive surface is exposed to light, leaving a mark on said surface. Camera photography was invented in the first decades of the 19th century, and even at this early point, it was able to capture more information, and with greater speed, than painting or sculpture. There are a number of important precursors to photography. In the 5th century BCE, before the first camera was ever invented, Chinese and Greek philosophers described the “pinhole camera,” a lightproof box with a tiny hole in one side that allowed light to pass through and project an inverted image one side. The camera obscura is a version of the pinhole camera, and was often used as a tool by artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci as a technique to create paintings. The process of photography was effectually engaged in creating a permanent image from the process outlined originally by the camera obscura. Camera obscura design: This diagram illustrates the components of a camera obscura. Nicephore Niepce was a French inventor who is known to have produced the first permanent photoetching in 1822. However, his process took a great deal of time; up to eight hours were needed to expose a single image. Niepce began to work with Louis Daguerre and the two conducted experiments with silver compounds, based on a theory of Johann Heinrich Schultz, who proved that the mixture of silver and chalk darkens when it is exposed to light. Niepce died in 1833 but Daguerre continued on this path and eventually invented the daguerreotype in 1837. The daguerreotype was an incredibly important discovery for photography due to its speed and ease of use. It represents the first commercially successful photographic process. Eventually, France agreed to pay Daguerre for his formula in exchange for announcing his discovery as the gift of France, which he did in 1839. The Earliest Photography The earliest photography consisted of monochromatic or black and white shots. Even after color photography was invented, black and white photography still prevailed due to its lower cost and preferable appearance. During the mid-19th century, many scientists and inventors began working on the development of photography. A number of chemical and physical photographic variations were made during the mid-19th century including the invention of the cyanotype, ambrotype, tintype, and negative on albumen. John Herschel was an important figure to the development of photography. He is credited with creating the first glass negative, and was among the first to use the terms photography, negative, and positive. In addition, he discovered a solution that could be used to “fix” photographs in order to make them more permanent. William Fox Talbot worked to refine Daguerre’s process in order to make the new photographic medium more available to the masses. He also invented the calotype process, which produces a paper print from a negative image. Talbot’s photograph of the Oriel window in Lacock Abbey is the oldest negative in existence. The 1860s were a defining decade for photography. In addition to the American Civil War (1861–65), the first war in American history to be documented with photographs, the 1860s also brought photography to the middle class. While the first half of the century introduced expensive daguerreotypes, the latter half of the century is defined by the development of cheaper photographic techniques. For example, the ambrotype mimicked the look of the daguerreotype with its reflective surface; however, the newer technology used a light-sensitized glass surface instead of copper, which made for a much cheaper photograph to produce and purchase. Likewise, the tintype eclipsed the ambrotype later in the decade by replacing glass with tin, an even cheaper material, and one that dried much quicker than glass. However, it was the albumen print, paper positives that retained the image quality of metal surfaces, that proved to be the winning technology, lasting well into the 20th century. Albumen print by Alexander Gardner, 1862: This print by Alexander Gardner depicts bodies of Confederate artillerymen near Dunker church. Since the earliest photographic developments, many scientists and artists have taken great interest in photography’s inherent abilities. Artists have used photography to study movement and motion, details that before this point could not be seen by the naked eye, as we see in Eadweard Muybridge’s studies from 1887. Photography represents the first instance of an artistic medium being used widely by the masses as a mode of visual expression. The Horse in Motion, 1886, Eadweard Muybridge: The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge illustrates the artist’s preoccupation with documenting motion and his use of photography as a sequential art form. Flying Gallop Hypothesis Falsified: Galloping horse, animated in 2006 using photos by Eadweard Muybridge.
Compare and contrast two works from two different movements in this module: realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, NeoClassicism or another that you are interested in. Think about these artists in relat
European and American Art in the 18th and 19th Centuries Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form Rococo Rococo in French Decoration Rococo salons are known for their elaborate detail, serpentine design work, asymmetry and predisposition to lighter, pastel, or gold-based color palettes. Learning Objectives Discuss the importance of the Rococo salon in France and its typical design Key Takeaways Key Points After the reign of Louis XIV, the wealthy and aristocratic moved back to Paris from Versailles and began decorating their homes in the new Rococo style that was associated with King Louis XV. The notion of the salon is an Enlightenment era ideal that transformed the salon, or living room, into the central space for aristocracy to entertain guests and engage in intellectual conversation. Rococo interiors are highly unified in nature, and represent the coming together of a number of decorative arts. As with other Rococo art forms, the color palette is lighter, the lines are curvaceous (‘S’ curve), and the decoration is excessive. Furniture rose to new heights in the period and emphasized lighthearted frivolity. Furniture, friezes, sculpture, metalwork, wall, and ceiling decoration are woven together stylistically in the Rococo salon. Key Terms asymmetry: Lacking a common measure between two objects or quantities; incommensurability. serpentine: Sinuous; curving in alternate directions. mahogany: Any of various tropical American evergreen trees, of the genus Swietenia, having a valuable hard red-brown wood. palette: The range of colors in a given work or body of work. In 18th century Europe, the Rococo style became prevalent in interior design, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts. A reaction to the rigidity of Baroque style, the frivolous and playful Rococo first manifested itself with interior design and decorative work. In French, the word salon simply means living room or parlor, and Rococo salons refer to central rooms that are designed in the Rococo style. In addition, the notion of the ‘salon’ is an Enlightenment era ideal that transformed the living room into the central space for aristocracy to entertain guests and engage in intellectual conversation. The idea that one’s architectural surroundings should encourage a way of life, or reflect one’s values, was the philosophy of the time. The Rococo interior reached its height in the total art work of the salon. Rococo salons are characterized by their elaborate detail, intricate patterns, serpentine design work, asymmetry, and a predisposition to lighter, pastel, and gold-based color palettes. Bureau Danton de l’Hôtel de Bourvallais: This example of a Rococo salon exemplifies the serpentine design work and heavy use of gold that were both typical of the Rococo style. As another means of reflecting status, furniture rose to new heights during the Rococo period, emphasizing the lighthearted frivolity that was prized by the style. Furniture design became physically lighter, so as to be easily moved around for gatherings, and many specialized pieces came to prominence, such as the fauteuil chair, the voyeuse chair, and the berger et gondola. Furniture in the Rococo period was freestanding, as opposed to wall-based, in order to accentuate the lighthearted and versatile atmosphere that was desired by the aristocracy. Mahogany became the most widely used medium due to its strength, and mirrors also became increasingly popular. Rococo salons often employed the use of asymmetry in design, which was termed contraste. Interior ornament included the use of sculpted forms on ceilings and walls, often somewhat abstract or employing leafy or shell-like textures. Two excellent examples of French Rococo are the Salon de Monsieur le Prince in the Petit Château at Chantilly, decorated by Jean Aubert; and the salons in the Hotel Soubise, Paris, by Germain Boffrand. Both of these salons exhibit typical Rococo style with walls, ceilings, and moulding decorated with delicate interlacings of curves based on the fundamental shapes of the ‘S,’ as well as with shell forms and other natural shapes. Salon de la Princesse: A Rococo interior from the Hotel de Soubise, Paris that demonstrates highly elaborate ceiling work. In France, the style began to decline by the 1750s. Criticized for its triviality and excess in ornament, Rococo style had already become more austere by the 1760s, as Neoclassicism began to take over as the dominant style in France and the rest of Europe. Rococo in Painting and Sculpture Rococo style in painting echoes the qualities evident in other manifestations of the style including serpentine lines, heavy use of ornament as well as themes revolving around playfulness, love, and nature. Learning Objectives Identify themes and qualities commonly associated with Rococo art Key Takeaways Key Points Rococo style developed first in the decorative arts and interior design, and its influence later spread to architecture, sculpture, theater design, painting, and music. Rococo style is characterized by elaborate ornamentation, asymmetrical values, pastel color palette, and curved or serpentine lines. Rococo art works often depict themes of love, classical myths, youth, and playfulness. Antoine Watteau is considered to be the first great Rococo painter who influenced later Rococo masters such as Boucher and Fragonard. In sculpture, the work of Etienne-Maurice Falconet is widely considered to be the best representative of Rococo style. Rococo sculpture makes use of very delicate porcelain instead of marble or another heavy medium. Key Terms Rococo: A style of baroque architecture and decorative art, from 18th century France, having elaborate ornamentation. pastel: Any of several subdued tints of colors, usually associated with pink, peach, yellow, green, blue, and lavender. serpentine: Sinuous; curving in alternate directions. Rococo Painting Painting during the Rococo period has many of the same qualities as other Rococo art forms such as heavy use of ornament, curved lines and the use of a gold and pastel-based palette. Additionally, forms are often asymmetrical and the themes are playful, even witty, rather than political, as in the case of Baroque art. Themes relating to myths of love as well as portraits and idyllic landscapes typify Rococo painting. Antoine Watteau Antoine Watteau is considered to be the first great Rococo painter. His influence is visible in the work of later Rococo painters such as Francois Boucher and Honore Fragonard. Watteau is known for his soft application of paint, dreamy atmosphere, and depiction of classical themes that often revolve around youth and love, exemplified in the painting Pilgrimage to Cythera. Pilgrimage to Cythera by Antoine Watteau: Watteau’s signature soft application of paint, dreamy atmosphere, and depiction of classical themes that often revolve around youth and love is evident in his work Pilgrimage to Cythera. Francois Boucher Francois Boucher became a master of Rococo painting somewhat later than Watteau. His work exemplifies many of the same characteristics, though with a slightly more mischievous and suggestive tone. Boucher had an illustrious career, and became court painter to King Louis XV in 1765. There was controversy later in his career as Boucher received some moral criticism from people such as Diderot for the themes present in his work. The Blonde Odalisque was particularly controversial, as it supposedly illustrated the extra marital affairs of the King. Blond Odalisque by Francois Boucher: Blond Odalisque was a highly controversial work by Francois Boucher as it was thought to depict an affair of King Louis XV. The work employs serpentine lines, a reasonably pastel palette and themes of love indicative of Rococo artwork. Rococo Sculpture In sculpture, the work of Etienne-Maurice Falconet is widely considered to be the best representative of Rococo style. Generally, Rococo sculpture makes use of very delicate porcelain instead of marble or another heavy medium. Falconet was the director of a famous porcelain factory at Sevres. The prevalent themes in Rococo sculpture echoed those of the other mediums, with the display of classical themes, cherubs, love, playfulness, and nature being depicted most often as exemplified in the sculpture Pygmalion and Galatee. Pygmalion and Galatee by Etienne-Maurice Falconet: Pygmalion and Galatee is indicative of Etienne Maurica Falconet’s Rococo style in its depiction of lighthearted love, including a cherub indicating its predisposition to mythology. Rococo Architecture 18th century Rococo architecture was a lighter, more graceful, yet also more elaborate version of Baroque architecture. Learning Objectives Distinguish Rococo architecture from its Baroque predecessor Key Takeaways Key Points Rococo architecture was a lighter, more graceful, yet also more elaborate version of Baroque architecture, which was ornate and austere. Rococo emphasized the asymmetry of forms, while Baroque was the opposite. The Baroque was more serious, placing an emphasis on religion, and was often characterized by Christian themes; Rococo was more secular and light-hearted. Rococo architecture brought significant changes to the building of edifices, placing an emphasis on privacy rather than the grand public majesty of Baroque architecture. Key Terms jocular: Humorous, amusing or joking. motif: A recurring or dominant element in a work of art. cherub: A statue or other depiction of an angel, typically in the form of a winged child. Rococo architecture was a lighter, more graceful, yet also more elaborate version of Baroque architecture, which was ornate and austere. While the styles were similar, there are some notable differences between both Rococo and Baroque architecture, such as symmetry; Rococo emphasized the asymmetry of forms, while Baroque was the opposite. The styles, despite both being richly decorated, also had different themes; the Baroque was more serious, placing an emphasis on religion, and was often characterized by Christian themes (the Baroque began in Rome as a response to the Protestant Reformation); Rococo architecture was an 18th century, more secular, adaptation of the Baroque that was characterized by more light-hearted and jocular themes. Other elements belonging to the architectural style of Rococo include numerous curves and decorations, as well as the use of pale colors. There are numerous examples of Rococo buildings as well as architects. Among the most famous include the Catherine Palace in Russia, the Queluz National Palace in Portugal, the Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces in Brühl, the Chinese House in Potsdam, the Charlottenburg Palace in Germany, as well as elements of the Château de Versailles in France. Architects who were renowned for their constructions using the style include Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, an Italian architect who worked in Russia and who was noted for his lavish and opulent works, Philip de Lange, who worked in both Danish and Dutch Rococo architecture, or Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann, who worked in the late Baroque style and who contributed to the reconstruction of the city of Dresden in Germany. Rococo architecture also brought significant changes to the building of edifices, placing an emphasis on privacy rather than the grand public majesty of Baroque architecture, as well as improving the structure of buildings in order to create a more healthy environment. Catherine Palace in Tsarskoe Selo, Saint Petersburg: The residence originated in 1717, when Catherine I of Russia hired German architect Johann-Friedrich Braunstein to construct a summer palace for her pleasure. In 1733, Empress Elizabeth commissioned Mikhail Zemtsov and Andrei Kvasov to expand the Catherine Palace. Empress Elizabeth, however, found her mother’s residence outdated and incommodious and in May 1752 asked her court architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli to demolish the old structure and replace it with a much grander edifice in a flamboyant Rococo style. Construction lasted for four years, and on July 30, 1756 the architect presented the brand-new 325-meter-long palace to the Empress, her dazed courtiers, and stupefied foreign ambassadors. What is Rococo? Why do I care? (The Stolen Kiss, Jean-Honore Fragonard) One time in college I was zoning-out in the dimly lit art history classroom amidst napping undergrads and filling out one of my countless “artist / date / movement / significance” flashcards. When all of a sudden my ears perked up– My prudish teacher began spouting off about trysts! debauchery! sex! infidelity! and immoral behavior! Shelve the triptychs, let’s do this! She was referring to Rococo, a movement which developed during the Late Baroque(18th century) period in France when artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, floral, and playful. Rococo first developed in the decorative arts and interior design and was often associated with the excesses of Louis XV’s reign. “Rococo rooms were designed as total works of art with elegant and ornate furniture, small sculptures, ornamental mirrors, and tapestry complementing architecture, reliefs, and wall paintings.”(via Wikipedia) The use of delicate complex forms and intricate patterns spread among French artists and engraved publications and was readily received in Catholic parts of Germany and Austria where the movement merged with lively German Baroque traditions. Because the style was always thought of as “French taste”, Rococo was not as well received in Great Britain yet its influence was felt in the areas of silverwork, porcelain and silks. William Hogarth helped develop a theoretical foundation for Rococo beauty. Though not intentionally referencing the movement, he argued in his Analysis of Beauty that the undulating lines and S-curves prominent in Rococo were the basis for grace and beauty in art or nature (unlike the straight line or the circle in Classicism). The beginning of the end for Rococo came in the early 1760s as figures like Voltaire and Jacques-François Blondel(prominent French architect) began to voice their criticism of the superficiality and degeneracy of the art. Blondel condemned the “ridiculous jumble of shells, dragons, reeds, palm-trees and plants” in contemporary interiors and the style began to fall out of fash… …ion. Oh, right. “Though Rococo originated in the purely decorative arts, the style showed clearly in painting. These painters used delicate colors and curving forms, decorating their canvases with cherubs and myths of love. Portraiture was also popular among Rococo painters. Some works show a sort of naughtiness or impurity in the behavior of their subjects, showing the historical trend of departing away from the Baroque’s church/state orientation. Landscapes were pastoral and often depicted the leisurely outings of aristocratic couples.” Jean-Honore Fragonard was ALL over this. (Blindman’s Bluff, Jean-Honore Fragonard) During the 18th century, art and literature depicted courtship with encoded gestures and rituals because the society they reflected also used them. Everything people did or said had a meaning behind it, and often it was not the obvious one. Many Rococo artists, including Fragonard, used symbols in their work. New symbols were developed for art, revolving around love and mythology. Statues of Venus, Cupid, and Psyche represented different aspects of love and were usually painted in the background to mirror the actions and sentiments of couples in the foreground. Flower gardens are symbols of blossoming love, while a floral crown is a symbol of sexual consummation or commitment. A woman’s shoeless foot or parted skirts mean that she is unchaste; the same thing may be said about a man without a hat. The presence of a cat represents promiscuity while the dog is a symbol of fidelity. The presence of a letter often indicates letters of love. The Rococo movement enabled Fragonard and others to express themselves in a new way and cover subject matter that was a bit more selacious than the landscapes, still lives, and pious family scenes depicted in earlier works from this time. Sex sells. (The Meeting, Jean-Honore Fragonard) One of Fragonard’s more famous pieces, The Meeting is exemplary of an idealized aristocratic view of young love. This representation of love may be seen in the iconography of the painting which depicts two lovers meeting in a garden(which was a common setting for such trysts) below a statue of Venus and Cupid. By presenting a fantasy of love for the upper classes Fragonard was also building on the tradition of idealization seen in French art set by previous artists such as Claude Lorraine and Antoine Watteau. The glamorization of love seen in The Meeting comes about through its formal composition, which gives the painting a warm, feminine quality. But there are questions surrounding the couple’s expressions, were they unexpectedly interrupted? Are they looking to the left because they are concerned they will be caught? Scandy! Fragonard exploits the sense of drama and heightened excitement which permeates The Meeting in order to portray the exuberance of new love. One must remember that in 18th-century France among the nobility marriages routinely were of convenience, with both men and women often having extramarital love interests. This cultural zeitgeist of decadent living among the aristocracy caused the commissioning of paintings with whimsical natures to flourish during the Rococo, and Fragonard had visited similar frivolous erotic subject matters in previous works such as The Swing from 1767. (The Swing, Jean-Honore Fragonard) The Swing depicts a lady in a pink dress seated on a swing on which she floats through the air, her skirts billowing, while a hidden gentleman observes from a thicket of bushes; the landscape setting emphasizes a bluish, smoky atmosphere, foaming clouds, and foliage sparkling with flickering light. Pictures like The Swing brought Fragonard harsh criticism from Denis Diderot, a leading philosopher of the Enlightenment. Diderot charged the artist with frivolity and admonished him to have “a little more self-respect.” Set in a rich landscape, an aristocratic young woman, identified as the patron’s mistress, is being pushed on a swing by a bishop. Facing her, lying on the ground, is her lover; she kicks up her leg, lifting her skirts and tossing him her shoe, symbolizing the sexual favors she bestowed upon him. (via enlightenment-revolution) (Autumn Pastoral, Francois Boucher) While this post focuses primarily on the work of Fragonard, artists such as François Boucher and the aforementioned Antoine Watteau were covering the subject of impropriety as well. Boucher is known for his Odalisque series of paintings which sparked controversy over “prostituting his wife”(in the dark-haired version) and spotlighting the extramarital affairs of the King(in the blonde version). After harsh criticism primarily from Diderot(what a buzzkill!), Boucher fell out of favor and his reputation was tarnished during the last of his creative years. (Pilgrimage on the Isle of Cythera, Antoine Watteau) The aforementioned Antoine Watteau(who is probably the most well known of the Rococo painters) created his famous “fête galante”(defined:an amorous celebration or party enjoyed by the elite aristocracy of France during the reign of Louis XV) piece Pilgrimage on the Isle of Cythera which captured the frivolity and sensuousness most often associated with this style of painting. (Self Portrait in a Straw Hat, Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun I would be remiss if I did not mention that during this time Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun was a force to be reckoned with as a prominent female artist and is recognized as the most famous female painter of the eighteenth century. Unfortunately, while Élisabeth was highly skilled, she primarily focused on aristocrat portraiture which doesn’t make for an engaging FLUX. post/Maury Povich show, but feel free to check out additional information on her here. (The Love Letter..with a few adjustments, Jean-Honore Fragonard)
Compare and contrast two works from two different movements in this module: realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, NeoClassicism or another that you are interested in. Think about these artists in relat
European and American Art in the 18th and 19th Centuries Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form Neoclassicism and Romanticism Romanticism Romanticism, fueled by the French Revolution, was a reaction to the scientific rationalism and classicism of the Age of Enlightenment. Learning Objectives Discuss the political and theoretical foundations of Romanticism Key Takeaways Key Points The ideals of the French Revolution created the context from which both Romanticism and the Counter- Enlightenment emerged. Romanticism was a revolt against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and also a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. Romanticism legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority, which permitted freedom from classical notions of form in art. The Industrial Revolution also influenced Romanticism, which was in part about escaping from modern realities. Romanticism was also influenced by Sturm und Drang, a German Counter-Enlightenment movement that emphasized subjectivity and intense emotion. Key Terms Romanticism: 18th century artistic and intellectual movement that stressed emotion, freedom, and individual imagination. Sturm und Drang: “Storm and Stress,” a German proto-romantic movement signifying turmoil and emotional intensity. Counter-Enlightenment: A movement that arose primarily in late 18th and early 19th century Germany against the rationalism, universalism, and empiricism commonly associated with the Enlightenment. Overview Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century. In most areas the movement was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 CE to 1840 CE. Romanticism reached beyond the rational and Classicist ideal models to elevate a revived medievalism. The Influence of the French Revolution Though influenced by other artistic and intellectual movements, the ideologies and events of the French Revolution created the primary context from which both Romanticism and the Counter-Enlightenment emerged. Upholding the ideals of the Revolution, Romanticism was a revolt against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and also a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. Romanticism elevated the achievements of what it perceived as heroic individualists and artists, whose pioneering examples would elevate society. It also legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority, which permitted freedom from classical notions of form in art. The Passion of the German Sturm und Drang Movement Romanticism was also inspired by the German Sturm und Drang movement (Storm and Stress), which prized intuition and emotion over Enlightenment rationalism. This proto-romantic movement was centered on literature and music, but also influenced the visual arts. The movement emphasized individual subjectivity. Extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements. Sturm und Drang in the visual arts can be witnessed in paintings of storms and shipwrecks showing the terror and irrational destruction wrought by nature. These pre-romantic works were fashionable in Germany from the 1760s on through the 1780s, illustrating a public audience for emotionally charged artwork. Additionally, disturbing visions and portrayals of nightmares were gaining an audience in Germany as evidenced by Goethe’s possession and admiration of paintings by Fuseli, which were said to be capable of “giving the viewer a good fright.” Notable artists included Joseph Vernet, Caspar Wolf, Philip James de Loutherbourg, and Henry Fuseli. The Shipwreck by Claude Joseph Vernet, 1759: Vernet participated in the proto-Romantic Sturm und Drang movement. The Industrial Revolution also had an influence on Romanticism, which was in part an escape from modern realities of population growth, urban sprawl, and industrialism. Indeed, in the second half of the 19th century, “Realism” was offered as a polarized opposite to Romanticism. Painting in the Romantic Period Romanticism was a prevalent artistic movement in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. Learning Objectives Discuss Romanticism as seen in the paintings from this period Key Takeaways Key Points ” History painting,” traditionally referred to technically difficult narrative paintings of multiple subjects, but became more frequently focused on recent historical events. Gericault and Delacroix were leaders of French romantic painting, and both produced iconic history paintings. Ingres, though firmly committed to Neoclassical values, is seen as expressing the Romantic spirit of the times. The Spanish artist Francisco Goya is considered perhaps the greatest painter of the Romantic period, though he did not necessarily self-identify with the movement; his oeuvre reflects the integration of many styles. The German variety of Romanticism notably valued wit, humor, and beauty. Key Terms Romanticism: 18th century artistic and intellectual movement that stressed emotion, freedom, and individual imagination. Neoclassicism: The name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theater, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the “classical” art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome. history painting: A a genre in painting defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style. These paintings usually depict a moment in a narrative story, rather than a specific and static subject. Romanticism While the arrival of Romanticism in French art was delayed by the hold of Neoclassicism on the academies, it became increasingly popular during the Napoleonic period. Its initial form was the history paintings that acted as propaganda for the new regime. The key generation of French Romantics born between 1795–1805, in the words of Alfred de Vigny, had been “conceived between battles, attended school to the rolling of drums.” The French Revolution (1789–1799) followed by the Napoleonic Wars until 1815, meant that war, and the attending political and social turmoil that went along with them, served as the background for Romanticism. History Painting Since the Renaissance, history painting was considered among the highest and most difficult forms of art. History painting is defined by its subject matter rather than artistic style. History paintings usually depict a moment in a narrative story rather than a specific and static subject. In the Romantic period, history painting was extremely popular and increasingly came to refer to the depiction of historical scenes, rather than those from religion or mythology. French Romanticism This generation of the French school developed personal Romantic styles while still concentrating on history painting with a political message. Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa of 1821 remains the greatest achievement of the Romantic history painting, which in its day had a powerful anti-government message. The Raft of the Medusa by Jean Louis Theodore Gericault, 1818–21: This painting is regarded as one of the greatest Romantic era paintings. Ingres Profoundly respectful of the past, Ingres assumed the role of a guardian of academic orthodoxy against the ascendant Romantic style represented by his nemesis Eugène Delacroix. He described himself as a “conservator of good doctrine, and not an innovator.” Nevertheless, modern opinion has tended to regard Ingres and the other Neoclassicists of his era as embodying the Romantic spirit of his time, while his expressive distortions of form and space make him an important precursor of modern art. Achilles Receiving the Envoys of Agamemnon by Ingres, 1801: Ingres, though firmly committed to Neoclassical values, is seen as expressing the Romantic spirit of the times. Delacroix Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863) had great success at the Salon with works like The Barque of Dante (1822), The Massacre at Chios (1824) and Death of Sardanapalus (1827). Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (1830) remains, with The Medusa, one of the best known works of French Romantic painting. Both of these works reflected current events and appealed to public sentiment. Liberty Leading the People, by Delacroix, 1830: The history paintings of Eugene Delacroix epitomized the Romantic period. Goya Spanish painter Francisco Goya is today generally regarded as the greatest painter of the Romantic period. However, in many ways he remained wedded to the classicism and realism of his training. More than any other artist of the period, Goya exemplified the Romantic expression of the artist’s feelings and his personal imaginative world. He also shared with many of the Romantic painters a more free handling of paint, emphasized in the new prominence of the brushstroke and impasto, which tended to be repressed in neoclassicism under a self-effacing finish. Goya’s work is renowned for its expressive line, color, and brushwork as well as its distinct subversive commentary. The Milkmaid of Bordeaux by Goya, ca. 1825–1827: Though he worked in a variety of styles, Goya is remembered as perhaps the greatest painter of the Romantic period. German Romanticism Compared to English Romanticism, German Romanticism developed relatively late, and, in the early years, coincided with Weimar Classicism (1772–1805). In contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety of Romanticism notably valued wit, humor, and beauty. The early German romantics strove to create a new synthesis of art, philosophy, and science, largely by viewing the Middle Ages as a simpler period of integrated culture, however, the German romantics became aware of the tenuousness of the cultural unity they sought. Late-stage German Romanticism emphasized the tension between the daily world and the irrational and supernatural projections of creative genius. Key painters in the German Romantic tradition include Joseph Anton Koch, Adrian Ludwig Richter, Otto Reinhold Jacobi, and Philipp Otto Runge among others. The Hulsenbeck Children by Phillip Otto Runge, oil on canvas: Runge was a well-known German Romantic painter. Landscape Painting in the Romantic Period Landscape painting in Europe and America greatly increased in prominence during the 18th and particularly the 19th century. Learning Objectives Describe the emergence of landscape painting in France, England, Holland, and the United States during the years of the Enlightenment Key Takeaways Key Points The decline of explicitly religious works, a result of the Protestant Reformation, contributed to the rise in the popularity of landscapes. English painters, working in the Romantic tradition, became well known for watercolor landscapes in the 18th century. Artists in the Barbizon School brought landscape painting to prominence in France, and were inspired by English landscape artist John Constable. The Barbizon school was an important precursor to Impressionism. The glorified depiction of a nation’s natural wonders, and the development of a distinct national style, were both ways in which nationalism influenced landscape painting in Europe and America. The Hudson River School was the most influential landscape art movement in 19th century America. Key Terms Romanticism: 18th century artistic and intellectual movement that stressed emotion, freedom, and individual imagination plein air: En plein air is a French expression that means “in the open air,” and refers to the act of painting outdoors. In the mid-19th century, working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon School and Impressionism. Dutch and English Landscape Painting Landscape painting depicts natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, trees, rivers, and forests, in which the main subject is typically a wide view and the elements are arranged into a coherent composition. During the Dutch Golden Age of painting of the 17th century, this type of painting greatly increased in popularity, and many artists specialized in the genre. In particular, painters of this era were known for developing extremely subtle, realist techniques of depicting light and weather. The popularity of landscape painting in this region, during this time, was in part a reflection of the virtual disappearance of religious art in the Netherlands, which was then a Calvinist society. In the 18th and 19th centuries, religious painting declined across all of Europe, and the movement of Romanticism spread, both of which provided important historical ingredients for landscape painting to ascend to a more prominent place in art. In England, landscapes had initially only been painted as the backgrounds for portraits, and typically portrayed the parks or estates of a landowner. This changed as a result of Anthony van Dyck, who, along with other Flemish artists living in England, began a national tradition. In the 18th century, watercolor painting, mostly of landscapes, became an English speciality. The nation had both a buoyant market for professional works of this variety, and a large number of amateur painters. By the beginning of the 19th century, the most highly regarded English artists were all, for the most part, dedicated landscapists, including John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, and Samuel Palmer. The Hay Wain by John Constable, 1821: Constable was a popular English Romantic Painter. French Landscape Painting French painters were slower to develop an interest in landscapes, but in 1824, the Salon de Paris exhibited the works of John Constable, an extremely talented English landscape painter. His rural scenes influenced some of the younger French artists of the time, moving them to abandon formalism and to draw inspiration directly from nature. During the revolutions of 1848, artists gathered in Barbizon to follow Constable’s ideas, making nature the subject of their paintings. They formed what is referred to as the Barbizon School. During the late 1860s, the Barbizon painters attracted the attention of a younger generation of French artists studying in Paris. Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille among others, practiced plein air painting and developed what would later be called Impressionism, an extremely influential movement. In Europe, as John Ruskin noted, and Sir Kenneth Clark confirmed, landscape painting was the “chief artistic creation of the 19th century,” and “the dominant art.” As a result, in the times that followed, it became common for people to “assume that the appreciation of natural beauty and the painting of landscape was a normal and enduring part of our spiritual activity.” Nationalism in Landscape Painting Nationalism has been implicated in the popularity of 17th century Dutch landscapes, and in the 19th century, when other nations, such as England and France, attempted to develop distinctive national schools of their own. Painters involved in these movements often attempted to express the unique nature of the landscape of their homeland. The Hudson River School In the United States, a similar movement, called the Hudson River School, emerged in the 19th century and quickly became one of the most distinctive worldwide purveyors of landscape pieces. American painters in this movement created works of mammoth scale in an attempt to capture the epic size and scope of the landscapes that inspired them. The work of Thomas Cole, the school’s generally acknowledged founder, seemed to emanate from a similar philosophical position as that of European landscape artists. Both championed, from a position of secular faith, the spiritual benefits that could be gained from contemplating nature. Some of the later Hudson River School artists, such as Albert Bierstadt, created less comforting works that placed a greater emphasis (with a great deal of Romantic exaggeration) on the raw, terrifying power of nature. The Oxbow by Thomas Cole, 1836: Thomas Cole was a founding member of the pioneering Hudson School, the most influential landscape art movement in 19th century America. Discovering Literature: Romantics & Victorians The Pre-Raphaelites Top of Form British library Bottom of Form Article written by: Dinah Roe Theme: Fin de siècle Published: 15 May 2014 Dr Dinah Roe introduces the unique band of artists, poets and designers known as the Pre-Raphaelites, charting their formation and evolution from the 1850s to the late 19th century. La Ghirlandata by Dante Gabriel Rossetti Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting La Ghirlandata (1873) depicts women playing musical instruments, as many of his paintings did. Usage terms © De Agostini Picture LibraryHeld by© De Agostini Picture Library The Pre-Raphaelites were a loose and baggy collective of Victorian poets, painters, illustrators and designers whose tenure lasted from 1848 to roughly the turn of the century. Drawing inspiration from visual art and literature, their work privileged atmosphere and mood over narrative, focusing on medieval subjects, artistic introspection, female beauty, sexual yearning and altered states of consciousness. In defiant opposition to the utilitarian ethos that formed the dominant ideology of the mid-century, the Pre-Raphaelites helped to popularise the notion of ‘art for art’s sake’. Generally devoid of the political edge that characterised much Victorian art and literature, Pre-Raphaelite work nevertheless incorporated elements of 19th-century realism in its attention to detail and in its close observation of the natural world. Driven by, as Oscar Wilde put it, ‘three things the English public never forgives: youth, power and enthusiasm’, Pre-Raphaelitism found itself paradoxically poised between nostalgia for the past and excitement about the future. 19th-century disagreements over whether their art was forward-thinking or retrogressive set a precedent for current critical debates about the extent to which their work should be considered ‘avant-garde’. The Awakening Conscience by William Holman Hunt As typical of many Pre-Raphaelite artworks, William Holman Hunt’s The Awakening Conscience (1853) displays meticulous attention to detail and is full of symbolism. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Pre-Raphaelitism began in 1848 when a group of seven young artists banded together against what they felt was an artificial and mannered approach to painting taught at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. They called themselves the ‘Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’ (PRB), a name that alluded to their preference for late medieval and early Renaissance art that came ‘before Raphael’. The painters were: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, James Collinson and Frederic George Stephens. The non-painters were sculptor Thomas Woolner and Brotherhood secretary William Michael Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s brother. Inspired by the work of old masters such as Van Eyck, Memling, Mantegna, Giotto and Fra Angelico, and following a programme of ‘truth to nature’, the artists advocated a return to the simplicity and sincerity of subject and style found in an earlier age. Their aims were vague and contradictory, even paradoxical, which was only to be expected from a youthful movement made up of strong-minded individuals who sought to modernise art by reviving the practices of the Middle Ages. The Blue Closet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti The Blue Closet (1857) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti is a prime example of the Pre-Raphaelites’s use of Medieval imagery. Usage terms © De Agostini Picture LibraryHeld by© De Agostini Picture Library Characterised by flattened perspective, sharp outlines, bright colours and close attention to detail that flouted classical conventions of symmetry, proportion and carefully controlled chiaroscuro, early PRB paintings of religious subjects such as Hunt’s A Converted British Family’, Millais’s Christ in the House of His Parents and Rossetti’s Ecce Ancilla Domini (1850) shocked critics with a hyper-realism perceived to be at odds with the sacred events portrayed. The 1850 Royal Academy Exhibition inaugurated what would remain an antagonistic relationship between establishment critics and the Pre-Raphaelites. Critics were particularly dismayed at the hints of Tractarianism and Romishness they detected in the detailed, ecclesiastic symbolism of Millais’ picture. They were further horrified by the painter’s blasphemous depiction of the Christ child as a red-headed member of an unidealised labouring-class family. Both Hunt’s and Millais’s paintings hinted at the breakdown of the social order, a worrying subject during a period where recent revolutions in Europe threatened to spread to Britain. Christ in the House of His Parents by John Everett Millais John Everett Millais’s Christ in the House of His Parents (1849-50) shocked critics when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1850. Usage terms © De Agostini Picture LibraryHeld by© De Agostini Picture Library Ecce Ancilla Domini! (The Annunciation) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti Like Millais’s Christ in the House of His Parents, Ecce Ancilla Domini (1850) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti provoked strong opinions from critics for its depiction of a religious subject. His sister, the poet Christina Rossetti, was the model for Mary, right. Usage terms © TateHeld by© Tate Though the Brotherhood was vilified in the press by such notables as Charles Dickens, who detected in Millais’s painting ‘the lowest depths of what is mean, odious, repulsive and revolting’, from 1851, the painters were vigorously defended by critic and Pre-Raphaelite patron John Ruskin, from whose Modern Painters I & II (1843, 1846) Hunt later claimed that the group had derived its ideas about the importance of truthfully representing nature. Review of Royal Academy exhibition of 1850 A damning review of the Pre-Raphaelites’s artworks on display at the 1850 Royal Academy exhibition. Usage terms Public Domain Literature was always as important as fine art to the Pre-Raphaelites; their paintings are often inspired by subjects from the bible, medieval romances, Arthurian legends, Ovid, Chaucer and Shakespeare. However, it is in their relationship to contemporary poetry that their avant-garde spirit is indisputably evident. In 1848, Rossetti and Holman Hunt drew up a list of ‘Immortals’, or artistic heroes, which included not only canonical writers such as Homer, Dante Alighieri and Boccaccio, but also recent predecessors and contemporaries such as Byron, Keats, Shelley, Longfellow, Emerson, Poe, Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning, Robert Browning and Thackeray. Ophelia by John Everett Millais Ophelia (1851-52) by John Everett Millais, inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Shakespeare was admired by the Pre-Raphaelites and was on their list of ‘Immortals’. Usage terms © De Agnosti Picture LibraryHeld by© De Agostini Picture Library The Pre-Raphaelite passion for modern writing was reflected in the PRB journal The Germ (1850), which contained not only pictures, but also reviews, essays and original poetry. Interested in the beauty and sound of language, Pre-Raphaelite verse experimented with forms such as the ballad, lyric and dramatic monologue. The Germ only survived for four issues, but this experimental periodical is an important forerunner of the Modernist ‘little magazine’. Its eagerness to explore the interactions between words and images set a precedent for subsequent high-profile Pre-Raphaelite projects; Rossetti’s, Millais’s and Hunt’s illustrations for an edition of Tennyson’s poems brought a collaborative spirit and a new respectability to the commercial art of book illustration. Pre-Raphaelite journal, The Germ Front cover of Pre-Raphaelite journal The Germ, 1850, which set out the group’s vision and included art, poetry and essays. Usage terms Public Domain The Moxon illustrated edition of Tennyson’s Poems William Holman Hunt’s illustration to ‘The Lady of Shalott’ from the Moxon edition of Tennyson’s Poems, 1857. Hunt later turned the image into a painting. Usage terms Public Domain Though its goals were ‘serious and heartfelt’, the PRB was founded in a spirit of waggish male camaraderie which expressed itself in pranks, late-night smoking sessions and midnight jaunts around London’s streets and pleasure gardens. Yet the formative female presence in the group’s early years should not be overlooked. Artists’ model and Rossetti’s wife Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal not only posed for many Pre-Raphaelite works, but also produced them herself. Patronised by Ruskin, she painted, drew and wrote poetry. Other women artists associated with the Pre-Raphaelites include: photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and painters Rosa Brett, Barbara Leigh Smith, Anna Mary Howitt, and Marie Spartali Stillman. Significant Pre-Raphaelite female models include: Annie Miller, Fanny Cornforth, Jane Morris and Marie Zambaco, among others. Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sister Christina was the only woman to publish with the group, contributing poems to The Germ (1850). Her sonnet, ‘In an Artist’s Studio’ (1856) sounded a prescient note of caution about the dangers of Pre-Raphaelite worship of the female muse. Christina Rossetti would become one of the greatest poets of her age. Notebook of Christina Rossetti (two of six), 18 December 1856-29 June 1858 Manuscript copy of ‘In an Artist’s Studio’ by Christina Rossetti, copied into one of her notebooks, 1856. A comment on the female muse, the poem remained unpublished during her lifetime. Usage terms Public Domain Pre-Raphaelitism’s Second Phase Pre-Raphaelitism survived the Brotherhood’s dissolution in the early 1850s, resurfacing in 1857 when Oxford undergraduates William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones teamed up with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and painters Arthur Hughes, Valentine Prinsep and others to decorate the Oxford Union debating chamber with Arthurian murals. In London, Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Ruskin, Prinsep and painter Ford Madox Brown taught art classes at the Working Men’s College, a Christian Socialist institution that sought to give working class men access to a liberal education. These adventures put the wind back in the sails of the Pre-Raphaelite movement; in 1861, Ford Madox Brown and architect Philip Webb (among others) joined Morris, Burne-Jones and Rossetti in founding a decorative arts firm which would become Morris & Co. As a protest against mass-production in the industrial era, the firm’s designers revived hand-crafting and old techniques in order to emphasise the unique qualities and the beauty of natural materials, inaugurating the Arts and Crafts Movement. Literary Success and Controversy Important literary developments of this period included a volume of William Morris’s poems, The Defence of Guenevere (1858), and George Meredith’s Modern Love (1862), a scandalous sonnet sequence about marital breakdown. Christina Rossetti’s poetry collection, Goblin Market (1862), was the first unqualified Pre-Raphaelite literary success. Illustrated by her brother Dante Gabriel in a style that would become widely imitated, it was also a landmark publication in terms of Victorian book illustration. Critical reaction against Algernon Charles Swinburne’s Poems and Ballads 1866, whose subjects included necrophilia, sado-masochism and blasphemy, caused the publisher to withdraw the volume. Championed first by the Pre-Raphaelites and later by the Aesthetes of the fin-de-siècle, Swinburne’s controversial ideas about poetry’s purpose evolved into an aesthetic philosophy that elevated artistic quality over moral, political or social content. Pre-Raphaelitism’s Later Stages & Influence Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Poems, 1870 attracted the critical ire of Robert Buchanan. His excoriating review, entitled ‘The Fleshly School of Poetry’, attacked Pre-Raphaelite poetry for its eroticism, medievalism and general rebellion against cultural norms. The very qualities derided by Buchanan attracted influential critic Walter Pater, who took over from John Ruskin as defender of the Pre-Raphaelites. Pater’s essays praising the art and poetry of Morris and Rossetti would become seminal works of Aestheticism. They were reprinted in various versions and editions from 1868 to the late 1880s, including Appreciations: With An Essay on Style (1889). Proto-aesthetic qualities were also evident in Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the 1870s and 1880s which featured striking, sensual figures in narratively ambiguous situations. Examples include Rossetti’s and Astarte Syriaca (1877) and The Day-Dream (1880) and Burne-Jones’s Laus Veneris (1875) and The Golden Stairs (1880), works which anticipated Symbolist art. During the 1880s, the Arts and Crafts Movement’s celebration of natural forms, artisanal craftsmanship and collaboration informed Morris’s developing socialism. In publications, lectures and addresses to striking workers, he called for a social revolution, arguing that industrial capitalism had exploited labourers by alienating them from their work and from each other. In 1884 Morris founded The Socialist League and become editor of its journal, The Commonweal, where his utopian novel News from Nowhere (1890) was initially serialised. The novel imagines a post-revolutionary England that has returned to the simplicity of a pre-industrial era, where class distinctions have been abolished, and mankind has been reconnected with the natural world. Today this novel is seen as a foundational text of the environmental movement. William Morris’s News from Nowhere News from Nowhere by William Morris, 1890. Frontispiece illustration depicts a Socialist ideal of freedom, equality and fraternity across the globe. Usage terms Public Domain Examining the interactions of word, image and design remained a preoccupation of late Pre-Raphaelitism. In 1891, William Morris founded the Kelmscott Press where he designed and manufactured beautifully illustrated books. The Press’s crowning achievement was The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1896), illustrated by Edward Burne-Jones. Literary Pre-Raphaelitism found new admirers in Aesthetes and Decadents like Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Symons and Ernest Dowson. The spirit of The Germ informed magazines such as The Yellow Book (1894-7) and The Savoy (1896), publications which presented work by Yeats, Beardsley, Symons, Walter Sickert and Joseph Conrad. A Book of Fifty Drawings by Aubrey Beardsley Aubrey Beardsley’s cover design for magazine The Savoy, here reprinted in 1897. The Aesthetes and Decadents were strongly influenced by Pre-Raphaelitism. Though the extraordinary amount of negative criticism they attracted (and still attract) might lead us to think otherwise, it is important to remember that the Pre-Raphaelites were not only dreamers, but also innovators. Though part of a complex and protean movement, the Pre-Raphaelites were united in their refusal to recognise boundaries between literature and fine art, their insistence on experimenting with material, form and technique, and their irrepressible, unrespectable spirit in an age that prized conformity. Footnotes  Oscar Wilde, ‘The English Renaissance of Art’, Essays and Lectures by Oscar Wilde (London: Methuen, 1908), p.120.  Tractarianism grew out of the Oxford Movement (1833-41), which advocated, among other things, the restoration of religious rituals long abandoned by the Church of England. Its views were widely regarded as uncomfortably sympathetic to Roman Catholicism.  Charles Dickens, ‘Old Lamps for New Ones’, Household Words, 12 (15 June 1850), p.12.  The ‘Moxon illustrated edition’ of Tennyson’s Poems (London: Moxon, 1857).  Robert Buchanan, ‘The Fleshly School of Poetry: Mr D G Rossetti’ first published in The Contemporary Review, 18 (August-November 1871). Written byDinah Roe Dr Dinah Roe is a Senior Lecturer in 19th century literature at Oxford Brookes University. She specialises in Victorian poetry, specifically that of the Pre-Raphaelites and is planning a book on the interactions of literary and visual arts in Pre-Raphaelite art. The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons License. POE Edgar Allan Poe & Gothic Horror Published by Melanie on 12th October 2020 Edgar Allan Poe, one of my favourite writers, deserves more than one post. He had an extortionary and miserable life, a mysterious death, wrote detective fiction, gothic horror, gothic romance and an early form of sci-fi. Edgar Allan Poe is a fascinating character of history and I will be returning to him again and again on this blog. But for now, let’s look at his influence on Gothic Horror. Gothic Horror Gothic fiction is a sub-genre of horror and has a very recognizable style. Think dark and moody scenery, bleak and hopeless, often with religious elements and a general downer on life and humanity. It often combines the intensely realistic characters with the paranormal. Perhaps the example most know is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Edgar Allan Poe is one of the great gothic writers you have to know. Death, death and more death Even just a glance over Poe’s works suggests he had a preoccupation with several themes. His work tends to focus on death, insanity, guilt and is often from the murderer’s perspective. Poe’s preoccupations were pretty standard for the time. In the Victorian era, they had a somewhat unusual relationship with death. Perhaps most markedly, people would take photographs with recently deceased family members as mementoes. You can find a lot of these online. They’re sad and a little disturbing to a modern audience. But, back in the Victorian era, death was closer and, if not more accepted, then frequent enough that it was better endured. And disease was naturally a big killer. There were frequent cholera outbreaks in North American and Europe. Consequently, death seemed always around the corner. And it wasn’t until 1895 that cholera was discovered to pass through water. That fun fact was discovered by John Snow (no, not that one) and Extra Credits does a great video about it you can watch here. Presumably, it was the frequent cholera outbreaks which likely inspired the Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, a short story about a plague wiping out a ball held by Prince Prospero, ending on the upbeat note: And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is one of Poe’s more interesting stories. The story is really very chilling, even to a modern reader. It’s often described as hoax fiction. In many ways, it’s the same kind of fake fiction thing you’d find randomly posted on the internet for views. Though far better written. The narrator claims to be giving a true account of his actions, which the public had started gossiping about. A student of mesmerism, the narrator is interested in what would happen if someone was mesmerised at the moment of death. Victorians had too much free time, apparently. After finding out a friend of his, Ernest Valdemar is dying of phthisis (tuberculosis), he asks him if he can perform the mesmerism. The experiment goes ahead. What follows is a dead creepy description of a not alive but not a dead man begging to be allowed to pass on. When the mesmerism is lifted, he dies in a pretty gruesome and spectacular way. The final paragraph, and the one that everyone quotes, is not for the squeamish. …within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk –crumbled –absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome –of detestable putridity. As incredible as it sounds, may readers took the story as a scientific report. It’s important to remember that mesmerism was terribly in fashion in this era. Many took the article as fact. George C. Eveleth, a medical student, even wrote to Poe saying: “I have strenuously held that it was true. But I tell you that I strongly suspect it for a hoax.” Sharp man that George. The Tell-Tale Heart iT’s TRue! yes, i have been ill, very ill. But why do you say that I have lost control of my mind, why do you say that I am mad? Can you not see that I have full control of my mind? Is it not clear that I am not mad? Indeed, the illness only made my mind, my feelings, my senses stronger, more powerful. My sense of hearing especially became more powerful. I could hear sounds I had never heard before. I heard sounds from heaven; and I heard sounds from hell! Edgar Allan Poe Tell Tale Heart Listen! Listen, and I will tellyou how it happened. You will see, you will hear how healthy my mind is. It is impossible to say how the idea first entered my head. There was no reason for what I did. I did not hate the old man; I even loved him. He had never hurt me. I did not want his money. I think it was his eye. His eye was like the eye of a vulture, the eye of one of those terrible birds that watch and wait while an animal dies, and then fall upon the dead body and pull it to pieces to eat it. When the old man looked at me with his vulture eye a cold feeling went up and down my Edgar Allan Poe: Storyteller back; even my blood became cold. And so, I finally decided I had to kill the old man and close that eye forever! So you think that I am mad? A madman cannot plan. But you should have seen me. During all of that week I was as friendly to the old man as I could be, and warm, and loving. Every night about twelve o’clock I slowly opened his door. And when the door was opened wide enough I put my hand in, and then my head. In my hand I held a light covered over with a cloth so that no light showed. And I stood there quietly. Then, carefully, I lifted the cloth, just a little, so that a single, thin, small light fell across that eye. For seven nights I did this, seven long nights, every night at midnight. Always the eye was closed, so it was impossible for me to do the work. For it was not the old man I felt I had to kill; it was the eye, his Evil Eye. And every morning I went to his room, and with a warm, friendly voice I asked him how he had slept. He could not guess that every night, just at twelve, I looked in at him as he slept. The eighth night I was more than usually careful as I opened the door. The hands of a clock move more quickly than did my hand. Never before had I felt so strongly my own power; I was now sure of success. The old man was lying there not dreaming that I was at his door. Suddenly he moved in his bed. You may think I became afraid. But no. The darkness in his room was thick and black. I knew he could not see the opening of the door. I continued to push the door, slowly, softly. I put in my head. I put in my hand, with the covered light. Suddenly the old man sat straight up in bed and cried, “Who’s there??!” I stood quite still. For a whole hour I did not move. Nor did I hear him again lie down in his bed. He just sat there, listening. Then I heard a sound, a low cry of fear which escaped from the old man. Now I knew that he was sitting up in his bed, filled with fear; I knew that he knew that I was there. He did not see me there. He could not hear me there. He felt me there. Now he knew that Death was standing there. Slowly, little by little, I lifted the cloth, until a small, small light escaped from under it to fall upon — to fall upon that vulture eye! It was open — wide, wide open, and my anger increased as it looked straight at me. I could not see the old man’s face. Only that eye, that 65 trouble me no more! Edgar Allan Poe hard blue eye, and the blood in my body became like ice.Have I not told you that my hearing had become unusually strong? Now I could hear a quick, low, soft sound, like the sound of a clock heard through a wall. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. I tried to stand quietly. But the sound grew louder. The old man’s fear must have been great indeed. And as the sound grew louder my anger became greater and more painful. But it was more than anger. In the quiet night, in the dark silence of the bedroom my anger became fear — for the heart was beating so loudly that I was sure some one must hear. The time had come! I rushed into the room, crying, “Die! Die!” The old man gave a loud cry of fear as I fell upon him and held the bedcovers tightly over his head. Still his heart was beating; but I smiled as I felt that success was near. For many minutes that heart continued to beat; but at last the beating stopped. The old man was dead. I took away the bedcovers and held my ear over his heart. There was no sound. Yes. He was dead! Dead as a stone. His eye would So I am mad, you say? You should have seen how careful I was to put the body where no one could find it. First I cut off the head, then the arms and the legs. I was careful not to let a single drop of blood fall on the floor. I pulled up three of the boards that formed the floor, and put the pieces of the body there. Then I put the boards down again, carefully, so carefully that no human eye could see that they had been moved. As I finished this work I heard that someone was at the door. It was now four o’clock in the morning, but still dark. I had no fear, however, as I went down to open the door. Three men were at the door, three officers of the Edgar Allan Poe: Storyteller police. One of the neighbors had heard the old man’s cry and had called the police; these three had come to ask questions and to search the house. I asked the policemen to come in. The cry, I said, was my own, in a dream. The old man, I said, was away; he had gone to visit a friend in the country. I took them through the whole house, telling them to search it all, to search well. I led them finally into the old man’s bed- room. As if playing a game with them I asked them to sit down and talk for a while. My easy, quiet manner made the policemen believe my story. So they sat talking with me in a friendly way. But although I answered them in the same way, I soon wished that they would go. My head hurt and there was a strange sound in my ears. I talked more, and faster. The sound became clearer. And still they sat and talked. Suddenly I knew that the sound was not in my ears, it was not just inside my head. At that moment I must have become quite white. I talked still faster and louder. And the sound, too, became louder. It was a quick, low, soft sound, like the sound of a clock heard through a wall, a sound I knew well. Louder it became, and louder. Why did the men not go? Louder, louder. I stood up and walked quickly around the room. I pushed my chair across the floor to make more noise, to cover that terrible sound. I talked even louder. And still the men sat and talked, and smiled. Was it possible that they could not hear?? No! They heard! I was certain of it. They knew! Now it was they who were playing a game with me. I was suffering more than I could bear, from their smiles, and from that sound. Louder, louder, louder! Suddenly I could bear it no longer. I pointed at the boards and cried, “Yes! Yes, I killed him. Pull up the boards and you shall see! I killed him. But why does his heart not stop beating?! Why does it not stop!?”
Compare and contrast two works from two different movements in this module: realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, NeoClassicism or another that you are interested in. Think about these artists in relat
European and American Art in the 18th and 19th Centuries Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form Neoclassicism Neoclassicism Neoclassicism refers to movements in the arts that draw inspiration from the “classical” art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. Learning Objectives Identify attributes of Neoclassicism and some of its key figures Key Takeaways Key Points The height of Neoclassicism coincided with the 18th century Enlightenment era, and continued into the early 19th century. With the increasing popularity of the Grand Tour, it became fashionable to collect antiquities as souvenirs, which spread the Neoclassical style through Europe and America. Neoclassicism spanned all of the arts including painting, sculpture, the decorative arts, theatre, literature, music, and architecture. Generally speaking, Neoclassicism is defined stylistically by its use of straight lines, minimal use of color, simplicity of form and, of course, an adherence to classical values and techniques. Rococo, with its emphasis on asymmetry, bright colors, and ornamentation is typically considered to be the direct opposite of the Neoclassical style. Key Terms Grand Tour: The traditional tour of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s. Enlightenment: A concept in spirituality, philosophy, and psychology related to achieving clarity of perception, reason, and knowledge. Rococo: A style of baroque architecture and decorative art, from 18th century France, having elaborate ornamentation. The classical revival, also known as Neoclassicism, refers to movements in the arts that draw inspiration from the “classical” art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. The height of Neoclassicism coincided with the 18th century Enlightenment era, and continued into the early 19th century. The dominant styles during the 18th century were Baroque and Rococo. The latter, with its emphasis on asymmetry, bright colors, and ornamentation is typically considered to be the direct opposite of the Neoclassical style, which is based on order, symmetry, and simplicity. With the increasing popularity of the Grand Tour, it became fashionable to collect antiquities as souvenirs. This tradition of collecting laid the foundations for many great art collections and spread the classical revival throughout Europe and America. Neoclassicism grew to encompass all of the arts, including painting, sculpture, the decorative arts, theatre, literature, music, and architecture. The style can generally be identified by its use of straight lines, minimal use of color, simplicity of form and, of course, its adherence to classical values and techniques. In music, the period saw the rise of classical music and in painting, the works of Jaques-Louis David became synonymous with the classical revival. However, Neoclassicism was felt most strongly in architecture, sculpture, and the decorative arts, where classical models in the same medium were fairly numerous and accessible. Sculpture in particular had a great wealth of ancient models from which to learn, however, most were Roman copies of Greek originals. Rinaldo Rinaldi, Chirone Insegna Ad Achille a Suonare La Cetra: Executed in a classical style and adhering to classical themes, this sculpture is a typical example of the Neoclassical style. Neoclassical architecture was modeled after the classical style and, as with other art forms, was in many ways a reaction against the exuberant Rococo style. The architecture of the Italian architect Andrea Palladio became very popular in the mid 18th century. Additionally, archaeological ruins found in Pompeii and Herculaneum informed many of the stylistic values of Neoclassical interior design based on the ancient Roman rediscoveries. Villa Godi Valmarana, Lonedo di Lugo, Veneto, Italy: Villa Godi was one of the first works by Palladio. Its austere facade, arched doorways and minimal symmetry reflect his adherence to classical stylistic values. Neoclassical Paintings Neoclassical painting, produced by men and women, drew its inspiration from the classical art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. Learning Objectives Discuss the overarching themes present in Neoclassical painting Key Takeaways Key Points Neoclassical subject matter draws from the history and general culture of ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. It is often described as a reaction to the lighthearted and “frivolous” subject matter of the Rococo. Neoclassical painting is characterized by the use of straight lines, a smooth paint surface, the depiction of light, a minimal use of color, and the clear, crisp definition of forms. The works of Jacques-Louis David are usually hailed as the epitome of Neoclassical painting. David attracted over 300 students to his studio, including Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Marie-Guillemine Benoist, and Angélique Mongez, the last of whom tried to extend the Neoclassical tradition beyond her teacher’s death. Key Terms Enlightenment: A philosophical movement in 17th and 18th century Europe. Also known as the Age of Reason, this was an era that emphasized rationalism. Background and Characteristics Neoclassicism is the term for movements in the arts that draw inspiration from the classical art and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. The height of Neoclassicism coincided with the 18th century Enlightenment era and continued into the early 19th century. With the advent of the Grand Tour—a much enjoyed trip around Europe intended to introduce young men to the extended culture and people of their world—it became fashionable to collect antiquities as souvenirs. This tradition laid the foundations of many great collections and ensured the spread of the Neoclassical revival throughout Europe and America. The French Neoclassical style would greatly contribute to the monumentalism of the French Revolution, with the emphasis of both lying in virtue and patriotism. Neoclassical painting is characterized by the use of straight lines, a smooth paint surface hiding brush work, the depiction of light, a minimal use of color, and the clear, crisp definition of forms. Its subject matter usually relates to either Greco-Roman history or other cultural attributes, such as allegory and virtue. The softness of paint application and light-hearted and “frivolous” subject matter that characterize Rococo painting is recognized as the opposite of the Neoclassical style. The works of Jacques-Louis David are widely considered to be the epitome of Neoclassical painting. Many painters combined aspects of Romanticism with a vaguely Neoclassical style before David’s success, but these works did not strike any chords with audiences. Typically, the subject matter of Neoclassical painting consisted of the depiction of events from history, mythological scenes, and the architecture and ruins of ancient Rome. The School of David Neoclassical painting gained new momentum with the great success of David’s Oath of the Horatii at the Paris Salon of 1785. The painting had been commissioned by the royal government and was created in a style that was the perfect combination of idealized structure and dramatic effect. The painting created an uproar, and David was proclaimed to have perfectly defined the Neoclassical taste in his painting style. He thereby became the quintessential painter of the movement. In The Oath of the Horatii, the perspective is perpendicular to the picture plane. It is defined by a dark arcade behind several classical heroic figures. There is an element of theatre, or staging, that evokes the grandeur of opera. David soon became the leading French painter and enjoyed a great deal of government patronage. Over the course of his long career, he attracted over 300 students to his studio. Jacques-Louis David. The Oath of the Horatii (1784): Oil on canvas. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, a Neoclassical painter of history and portraiture, was one of David’s students. Deeply devoted to classical techniques, Ingres is known to have believed himself to be a conservator of the style of the ancient masters, although he later painted subjects in the Romantic style. Examples of his Neoclassical work include the paintings Virgil Reading to Augustus (1812), and Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864). Both David and Ingres made use of the highly organized imagery, straight lines, and clearly defined forms that were typical of Neoclassical painting during the 18th century. Virgil Reading to Augustus by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1812): Oil on canvas. The Walters Art Museum. While tradition and the rules governing the Académie Française barred women from studying from the nude model (a necessity for executing an effective Neoclassical painting), David believed that women were capable of producing successful art of the style and welcomed many as his students. Among the most successful were Marie-Guillemine Benoist, who eventually won commissions from the Bonaparte family, and Angélique Mongez, who won patrons from as far away as Russia. Self-Portrait by Marie-Guillemine Benoist (1788): In this untraced oil on canvas, Benoist (then Leroulx de la Ville) paints a section from David’s acclaimed Neoclassical painting of Justinian’s blinded general Belisarius begging for alms. Her return of the viewer’s gaze and classical attire show her confidence as an artist and conformity to artistic trends. Mongez is best known for being one of the few women to paint monumental subjects that often included the male nude, a feat for which hostile critics often attacked her. Theseus and Pirithoüs Clearing the Earth of Brigands, Deliver Two Women from the Hands of Their Abductors by Angélique Mongez (1806): Oil on canvas. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Mongez and Antoine-Jean Gros, another of David’s students, tried to carry on the Neoclassical tradition after David’s death in 1825 but were unsuccessful in face of the growing popularity of Romanticism. Neoclassical Sculpture A reaction against the “frivolity” of the Rococo, Neoclassical sculpture depicts serious subjects influenced by the ancient Greek and Roman past. Learning Objectives Explain what motifs are common to Neoclassical sculpture Key Takeaways Key Points Neoclassicism emerged in the second half of the 18th century, following the excavations of the ruins of Pompeii, which sparked renewed interest in the Graeco-Roman world. Neoclassical sculpture is defined by its symmetry, life-sized to monumental scale, and its serious subject matter. The subjects of Neoclassical sculpture ranged from mythological figures to heroes of the past to major contemporary personages. Neoclassical sculpture could capture its subject as either idealized or in a more veristic manner. Key Terms verism: An ancient Roman technique, in which the subject is depicted with “warts and all” realism. As with painting, Neoclassicism made its way into sculpture in the second half of the 18th century. In addition to the ideals of the Enlightenment, the excavations of the ruins at Pompeii began to spark a renewed interest in classical culture. Whereas Rococo sculpture consisted of small-scale asymmetrical objects focusing on themes of love and gaiety, neoclassical sculpture assumed life-size to monumental scale and focused on themes of heroism, patriotism, and virtue. In his tomb sculpture, the Enlightenment philosophe Voltaire is honored in true Neoclassical form. In a style influenced by ancient Roman verism, he appears as an elderly man to honor his wisdom. He wears a contemporary commoner’s blouse to convey his humbleness, and his robe assumes the appearance of an ancient Roman toga from a distance. Like his ancient predecessors, his facial expression and his body language suggest an air of scholarly seriousness. Voltaire’s tomb.: Panthéon, Paris. Neoclassical sculptors benefited from an abundance of ancient models, albeit Roman copies of Greek bronzes in most cases. The leading Neoclassical sculptors enjoyed much acclaim during their lifetimes. One of them was Jean-Antoine Houdon, whose work was mainly portraits, very often as busts, which do not sacrifice a strong impression of the sitter’s personality to idealism. His style became more classical as his long career continued, and represents a rather smooth progression from Rococo charm to classical dignity. Unlike some Neoclassical sculptors he did not insist on his sitters wearing Roman dress, or being unclothed. He portrayed most of the great figures of the Enlightenment, and traveled to America to produce a statue of George Washington, as well as busts of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and other luminaries of the new republic. His portrait bust of Washington depicts the first President of the United States as a stern, yet competent leader, with the influence of Roman verism evident in his wrinkled forehead, receding hairline, and double chin. Bust of George Washington by Jean-Antoine Houdon (c. 1786) National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. The Italian artist Antonio Canova and the Danish artist Bertel Thorvaldsen were both based in Rome, and as well as portraits produced many ambitious life-size figures and groups. Both represented the strongly idealizing tendency in Neoclassical sculpture. Hebe by Antonio Canova (1800–05).: Hermitage State Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia. Canova has a lightness and grace, where Thorvaldsen is more severe. The difference is exemplified in Canova’s Hebe (1800–05), whose contrapposto almost mimics lively dance steps as she prepares to pour nectar and ambrosia from a small amphora into a chalice, and Thorvaldsen’s Monument to Copernicus (1822-30), whose subject sits upright with a compass and armillary sphere. Monument to Copernicus by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1822–30).: Bronze. Warsaw, Poland. Neoclassical Architecture Neoclassical architecture looks to the classical past of the Graeco-Roman era, the Renaissance, and classicized Baroque to convey a new era based on Enlightenment principles. Learning Objectives Identify what sets Neoclassical architecture apart from othermovements Key Takeaways Key Points Neoclassical architecture was produced by the Neoclassical movement in the mid 18th century. It manifested in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of the classicizing features of Late Baroque. The first phase of Neoclassicism in France is expressed in the “Louis XVI style” of architects like Ange-Jacques Gabriel (Petit Trianon, 1762–68) while the second phase is expressed in the late 18th-century Directoire style. Neoclassical architecture emphasizes its planar qualities, rather than sculptural volumes. Projections and recessions and their effects of light and shade are more flat, while sculptural bas- reliefs are flatter and tend to be enframed in friezes, tablets, or panels. Structures such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Panthéon in Paris, and Chiswick House in London have elements that convey the influence of ancient Greek and Roman architecture, as well as some influence from the Renaissance and Late Baroque periods. Neoclassical architecture, which began in the mid 18th century, looks to the classical past of the Graeco-Roman era, the Renaissance, and classicized Baroque to convey a new era based on Enlightenment principles. This movement manifested in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing features of Late Baroque. In its purest form, Neoclassicism is a style principally derived from the architecture of Classical Greece and Rome. In form, Neoclassical architecture emphasizes the wall and maintains separate identities to each of its parts. The first phase of Neoclassicism in France is expressed in the Louis XVI style of architects like Ange-Jacques Gabriel (Petit Trianon, 1762–68). Ange-Jacques Gabriel was the Premier Architecte at Versailles, and his Neoclassical designs for the royal palace dominated mid 18th century French architecture. Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Château of the Petit Trianon.: The Petit Trianon in the park at Versailles demonstrates the neoclassical architectural style under Louis XVI. After the French Revolution, the second phase of Neoclassicism was expressed in the late 18th century Directoire style. The Directoire style reflected the Revolutionary belief in the values of republican Rome. This style was a period in the decorative arts, fashion, and especially furniture design, concurrent with the post-Revolution French Directoire (November 2, 1795–November 10, 1799). The style uses Neoclassical architectural forms, minimal carving, planar expanses of highly grained veneers, and applied decorative painting. The Directoire style was primarily established by the architects and designers Charles Percier (1764–1838) and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762–1853), who collaborated on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, which is considered emblematic of French neoclassical architecture. Arc de Triomphe: The Arc de Triomphe, although finished in the early 19th century, is emblematic of French neoclassical architecture that dominated the Directoire period. Though Neoclassical architecture employs the same classical vocabulary as Late Baroque architecture, it tends to emphasize its planar qualities rather than its sculptural volumes. Projections, recessions, and their effects on light and shade are more flat. Sculptural bas-reliefs are flatter and tend to be framed in friezes, tablets, or panels. Its clearly articulated individual features are isolated rather than interpenetrating, autonomous, and complete in themselves. Even sacred architecture was classicized during the Neoclassical period. The Panthéon, located in the Latin Quarter of Paris, was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Geneviève and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics. However, during the French Revolution, the Panthéon was secularized and became the resting place of Enlightenment icons such as Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Designer Jacques-Germain Soufflot had the intention of combining the lightness and brightness of the Gothic cathedral with classical principles, but its role as a mausoleum required the great Gothic windows to be blocked. In 1780, Soufflot died and was replaced by his student, Jean-Baptiste Rondelet. Jacques-Germain Soufflot (original architect) and Jean-Baptiste Rondelet. The Panthéon.: Begun 1758, completed 1790. Similar to a Roman temple, the Panthéon is entered through a portico that consists of three rows of columns (in this case, Corinthian) topped by a Classical pediment. In a fashion more closely related to ancient Greece, the pediment is adorned with reliefs throughout the triangular space. Beneath the pediment, the inscription on the entablature translates as: “To the great men, the grateful homeland.” The dome, on the other hand, is more influenced by Renaissance and Baroque predecessors, such as St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. Intellectually, Neoclassicism was symptomatic of a desire to return to the perceived “purity” of the arts of Rome. The movement was also inspired by a more vague perception (“ideal”) of Ancient Greek arts and, to a lesser extent, 16th century Renaissance Classicism, which was also a source for academic Late Baroque architecture. There is an anti-Rococo strain that can be detected in some European architecture of the earlier 18th century. This strain is most vividly represented in the Palladian architecture of Georgian Britain and Ireland. Lord Burlington. Chiswick House: The design of Chiswick House in West London was influenced by that of Palladio’s domestic architecture, particularly the Villa Rotunda in Venice. The stepped dome and temple façade were clearly influenced by the Roman Pantheon. The trend toward the classical is also recognizable in the classicizing vein of Late Baroque architecture in Paris. It is a robust architecture of self-restraint, academically selective now of “the best” Roman models. These models were increasingly available for close study through the medium of architectural engravings of measured drawings of surviving Roman architecture. French Neoclassicism continued to be a major force in academic art through the 19th century and beyond—a constant antithesis to Romanticism or Gothic revivals. A gentleman architect In an undated note, Thomas Jefferson left clear instructions about what he wanted engraved upon his burial marker: Here was buriedThomas JeffersonAuthor of the Declaration of American Independenceof the Statute of Virginia for religious freedomFather of the University of Virginia Jefferson explained, “because by these, as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered.” To be certain, there are important achievements Jefferson neglected. He was also the Governor of Virginia, American minister to France, the first Secretary of State, the third president of the United States, and one of the most accomplished gentleman architects in American history. To quote William Pierson, an architectural historian, “In spite of the fact that his training and resources were those of an amateur, he was able to perform with all the insight and boldness of a high professional.” Indeed, even had he never entered political life, Jefferson would be remembered today as one of the earliest proponents of neoclassical architecture in the United States. Jefferson believed art was a powerful tool; it could elicit social change, could inspire the public to seek education, and could bring about a general sense of enlightenment for the American public. If Cicero believed that the goals of a skilled orator were to Teach, to Delight, and To Move, Jefferson believed that the scale and public nature of architecture could fulfill these same aspirations. Thomas Jefferson, Monticello (view from the north), Charlottesville, Virginia, 1770-1806 Return to the classical Jefferson arrived at the College of William and Mary in 1760 and took an immediate interest in the architecture of the college’s campus and of Williamsburg more broadly. A lifelong book lover, Jefferson began his architectural collection while a student. His first two purchases were James Leoni’s The Architecture of A. Palladio (1715-1720) and James Gibbs’ Rules for Drawing the Several Parts of Architecture (1732). Although never formally trained as an architect, Jefferson, both while a student and then later in life, expressed dissatisfaction with the architecture that surrounded him in Williamsburg, believing that the Wren-Baroque aesthetic common in colonial Virginia was too British for a North American audience. In an oft-quoted passage from Notes on Virginia (1782), Jefferson critically wrote of the architecture of Williamsburg: “The College and Hospital are rude, mis-shapen piles, which, but that they have roofs, would be taken for brick-kilns. There are no other public buildings but churches and court-houses, in which no attempts are made at elegance.” Thus, when Jefferson began to design his own home, he turned not to the architecture then in vogue around the Williamsburg area, but instead to the classically inspired architecture of Antonio Palladio and James Gibbs. Rather than place his plantation house along the bank of a river—as was the norm for Virginia’s landed gentry during the eighteenth century—Jefferson decided instead to place his home, which he named Monticello (Italian for “little mountain”) atop a solitary hill just outside Charlottesville, Virginia. French Neo-Classicism for an American audience Construction began in 1768 when the hilltop was first cleared and leveled, and Jefferson moved into the completed South Pavilion two years later. The early phase of Monticello’s construction was largely completed by 1771. Jefferson left both Monticello and the United States in 1784 when he accepted an appointment as America Minister to France. Over the next five years, that is, until September 1789 when Jefferson returned to the United States to serve as Secretary of State under newly elected President Washington, Jefferson had the opportunity to visit Classical and Neoclassical architecture in France. Thomas Jefferson, Rotunda, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1819-26 This time abroad had an enormous effect on Jefferson’s architectural designs. The Virginia State Capitol (1785-1789) is a modified version of the Maison Carrée (16 B.C.E.), a Roman temple Jefferson saw during a visit to Nîmes, France. And although Jefferson never went so far as Rome, the influence that the Pantheon (125 C.E.) had over his Rotunda (begun 1817) at the University of Virginia is so evident it hardly need be mentioned. Politics largely consumed Jefferson from his return to the United States until the last day of 1793 when he formally resigned from Washington’s cabinet. From this year until 1809, Jefferson diligently redesigned and rebuilt his home, creating in time one of the most recognized private homes in the history of the United States. In it, Jefferson fully integrated the ideals of French neoclassical architecture for an American audience. In this later construction period, Jefferson fundamentally changed the proportions of Monticello. If the early construction gave the impression of a Palladian two-story pavilion, Jefferson’s later remodeling, based in part on the Hôtel de Salm (1782-87) in Paris, gives the impression of a symmetrical single-story brick home under an austere Doric entablature. The west garden façade—the view that is once again featured on the American nickel—shows Monticello’s most recognized architectural features. The two-column deep extended portico contains Doric columns that support a triangular pediment that is decorated by a semicircular window. Although the short octagonal drum and shallow dome provide Monticello a sense of verticality, the wooden balustrade that circles the roofline provides a powerful sense of horizontality. From the bottom of the building to its top, Monticello is a striking example of French Neoclassical architecture in the United States. Rembrandt Peale, Thomas Jefferson, 1805, oil on linen, 28 x 23 1/2″ (New-York Historical Society) Jefferson changed political parties and was a Democratic-Republican by the time he was elected president. He believed the young United States needed to forge a strong diplomatic relationship with France, a country Jefferson and his political brethren believed were our revolutionary brothers in arms. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that Jefferson designed his own home after the neoclassicism then popular in France, a mode of architecture that was distinct from the style then fashionable in Great Britain. This neoclassicism—with roots in the architecture of ancient Rome—was something Jefferson was able to visit while abroad. Buildings that speak to democratic ideals By helping to introduce classical architecture to the United States, Jefferson intended to reinforce the ideals behind the classical past: democracy, education, rationality, civic responsibility. Because he detested the English, Jefferson continually rejected British architectural precedents for those from France. In doing so, Jefferson reinforced the symbolic nature of architecture. Jefferson did not just design a building; he designed a building that eloquently spoke to the democratic ideals of the United States. This is clearly seen in the Virginia State Capitol, in the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and especially in his own home, Monticello. Vermeer and the Camera Obscura: Part I It is impossible to express the beauty [of the camera obscura image] in words. The art of painting is dead, for this is life itself: or something higher, if we could find a word for it.— Constantijn Huygens, private letter April 13, 1622 Function Vermeer & the CameraObscura Function & history Rediscovery & evidence The camera’s limitations & Vermeer camera Camera obscura resources “The principle of the camera obscura is as simple as it seems magical even today. In a camera obscura the rays of light from an observed scene pass through a small aperture in one side of a closed room in such a way (following the laws of optics) as to cross and re-emerge on the other side of the aperture in a divergent configuration (fig. 1 & 2).” 1 The surroundings of the projected image must be dark for the image to be clear, so the first historical camera obscura experiments were performed in dark rooms with a small hole bored into one of its walls (fig. 3 & 4). In later years the room was transformed into a large, portable box (fig. 5 & 6) and later into small boxes that could be carried under ones arms. (fig. 12, 16, 18 & 21). As will become abundantly clear, there are two types of camera obscura: the camera with an internal observer, which can be either stationary or mobile, and the camera obscura with an external observer, which is always mobile. fig. 1 Principle of the pin-hole camera obscura in Ars magna lucis et umbrae. (p. 121)Athanasius Kircher1646 fig. 2 fig. 3 Illustration of camera obscura from “Sketchbook on military art, including geometry, fortifications, artillery, mechanics, and pyrotechnics” (The background shows Brunelleschi’s Duomo, Florence.)Unknown, possibly ItalianSeventeenth centuryPen and ink on paperLibrary of Congress, Washington D. C. fig. 4 The camera obscura principle as illustrated in: A short account of the eye and nature of vision. Chiefly designed to illustrate the use and advantage of spectacles. Wherein are laid down rules for chusing glasses proper for remedying all the different defects of sight. As also some reasons for preferring a particular kind of glass, fitter than any other made use of for that purpose.James Ayscough 1755Printed by E Say for A Strahan, 1755London fig. 5 Illustration from A New and Complete Dictionary of the Arts and SciencesThomas Jeffreys1754London: Printed for W. Owen fig. 6 Engraving of a “portable” camera obscura in Athanasius Kircher’s Ars Magna Lucis Et Umbrae (1645) The image of the camera obscura has particular properties which makes it quite different from both reality and the photograph: its image is projected upside down, reversed left to right, and its luminosity is very low. A person entering the darkened room must wait a few minutes for his eyes to become accustomed before he can make sense out the projected image. The first phenomenon is due to the laws of optics while the second is due to the necessarily reduced size of the camera’s aperture. History & room-type camera obscuras The discovery and development of camera obscura stands at the crossroads of astronomy, perspective, optics, philosophy,2 magic and art. Those who were initially interested in the device were not only scientists (natural philosophers) but philosophers or inventors—but, until the mid-1600s, as far as we know, never practicing artists. It is impossible to know by whom or when the camera obscura was first theorized. Almost certainly the device itself “was formulized from optical principles that had been accidentally discovered centuries earlier and that are as old as light itself. In the fifth century B.C., the Chinese philosopher Mo Ti noted the ‘image-making properties’ of a small aperture, although it was not instrumentalized. A century later, Aristotle (384–322 BC) was struck by the many crescent-shaped images of the sun that appeared on the ground beneath a tree during an eclipse of the sun, and attributed them to the small spaces between the leaves.”3 Those who has lived for some time in Italy in a house fitted with the typical slatted persiane (shutters) might have experienced the effect of a camera obscura by accident, particularly during the summer months when sun shines all day long. When the shutters are almost closed, every once in a while the direction of the sun rays and particular dispositions of the slats fortuitously create a tiny aperture that functions as a pinhole allowing the person inside the dark room to see part of the landscape outside the window projected on the floor or a wall. fig. 8 Image of a pin-hole camera obscura with the Chinese characters that translate as “sun.”Jing jing ling chiZheng Fu-Guang zhu In the third century B. C., Chinese writer Tuan Cheng-Shih discussed an inverted pagoda that he had seen form through a small hole made in a screen, although he attributed it to reflections in the nearby sea rather than a result of optics. In 1086–1088, the Chinese polymathic scientist and statesman of the Song dynasty Shen Kua (1031–1095), correctly explained the principles of the camera obscura—the focal point, the role of the pinhole and inverted images—using a fitting metaphor of an oar and its oarlock. He compared a ray of light to an oar in its oarlock (pinhole): when the handle is up, the blade of the oar is down, and vice versa. The property of image inversion was later illustrated using the canonical image of a pagoda (fig. 8) in the book Jing jing ling chi (Optical and Other Comments) by Zheng Fu-Guang zhu (1780–1853). In 1038 A.D., the great Arab scholar Al-Hassan Ibn al-Haytham (Latinized as Alhazen; 965–c. 1040) described a working model of the camera obscura in his Perspectiva (i.e., the thirteenth-century Latin translation of his Kitãb al-ma). Alhazen did not actually construct the device because he and his followers were interested in the camera for what it revealed about the behavior of light, not for purposes of representation. He wrote: If the image of the sun at the time of an eclipse—provided it is not a total one—passes through a small round hole onto a plane surface, opposite, it will be crescent-shaped… If the hole is very large, the crescent shape of the image disappears altogether and the light [on the wall] becomes round if the hole is round… with any shaped opening you like, the image always takes the same shape… provided the hole is large and the receiving surface parallel to it. fig. 7 Three-tiered camera obscura, 13th century? (attributed to Roger Bacon) However, Alhazen’s work influenced the English philosopher and Franciscan friar Roger Bacon (c. 1219/20–c. 1292; fig. 7), who was interested in optics. In 1267, Bacon created convincing optical illusions by using mirrors and the basic principles of the camera obscura. Later, he used a camera obscura to project the image of the sun directly upon an opposite wall. For centuries, the camera obscura was primarily used to watch solar eclipses because the human eye cannot tolerate the amount of light that floods into it when it looks directly at the sun. In any case, all of the first cameras were literally “dark rooms.” Inside the room, one could see what was happening outside. In 1490, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was the first to suggest that the camera obscura might be of interest to the artist. If the facade of a building, or a place, or a landscape is illuminated by the sun and a small hole is drilled in the wall of a room in a building facing this, which is not directly lighted by the sun, then all objects illuminated by the sun will send their images through this aperture and will appear, upside down, on the wall facing the hole. You will catch these pictures on a piece of white paper, which placed vertically in the room not far from that opening, and you will see all the above-mentioned objects on this paper in their natural shapes or colors, but they will appear smaller and upside down, on account of crossing of the rays at that aperture. If these pictures originate from a place which is illuminated by the sun, they will appear colored on the paper exactly as they are. The paper should be very thin and must be viewed from the back. These descriptions, however, would remain unknown until Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746–1822) deciphered and published them in 1797. The oldest known drawing of a camera obscura (fig. 9) is found in De Radio Astronomica et Geometrica (1545), by the Dutch physician, mathematician and instrument maker Gemma Frisius (1508– 1555), in which he described how he used the camera obscura to study the solar eclipse of January 24, 1544. In fact, the oldest employment of the camera obscura, dating back to antiquity, was for astronomical purposes, for safely observing phenomena connected with the sun, in particular solar eclipses and sunspots. Since the stationary room-type camera obscura had no focusing mechanism, the only way the viewer could render its often blurry imagessharper was to move a sheet of paper on which they were received back and forth until the point at which the image came into focus was found. fig. 9 First published picture of camera obscura in Gemma Frisius’ 1545 book De Radio Astronomica et Geometrica The lens & diaphragm The first documented mention of a “glass disc,” probably a convex lens, used in conjunction with the camera obscura is in the Italian mathematician Girolamo Cardano’s (1501–1576), De subtilitate, vol. I, Libri IV(1551). He suggested to use it to view “what takes place in the street when the sun shines” and advised to use a very white sheet of paper as a projection screen so the colors wouldn’t be dull. Eight years later Giovanni Battista della Porta (1535?–1615), an Italian scholar, polymath and playwright, wrote that the camera obscura, which he called a “obscurum cubiculum,” made it “possible for anyone ignorant in the art of painting to draw with a pencil or pen, the image of any object whatsoever” (Magiae Naturalis, first edition, 1558). With Della Porta’s book, written in a simple and popular language, news of the camera obscura spread rapidly. Magiae Naturalis was so successful that it was translated into Arabic and several European languages, including Dutch. This explains why Della Porta was sometimes considered as the inventor of the camera obscura. Della Porta also compared the human eye to the camera obscura: “For the image is let into the eye through the eyeball just as here through the window.” As early as 1568, Daniele Barbaro (1513–1570), a Venetian patrician famous for his editions of the Roman architectural writer Vitruvius, had proposed that the camera be used explicitly for producing drawings in correct “perspective” in his La pratica della perspettiva (1568; fig. 10), one of the most influential texts on perspective at that time. He called it “a most beautiful experiment concerning perspective.” Close all shutters and doors until no light enters the camera except through the lens, and opposite hold a piece of paper, which you move forward and backward until the scene appears in the sharpest detail. There on the paper you will see the whole view as it really is, with its distances, its colors and shadows and motion, the clouds, the water twinkling, the birds flying. By holding the paper steady you can trace the whole perspective with a pen, shade it and delicately color it from nature. While Leonardo encouraged his readers to make paintings that correspond with the images that appear inside the camera obscura, Barbaro actually recommended coloring them, most likely because, not being an artist, he naively assumed that laying in colors might be easily done. But perhaps more importantly, Barbaro described how to improve the image of the camera with a lens: You should choose the glass [lens] which does the best, and you should cover it so much that you leave a little in the middle clear and open and you will see a still brighter affect. By “covering it so much that you leave a little in the middle clear and open” Barbaro evidently meant that the diameter of the lens should be partially narrowed toward its middle, or “stopped down” in modern photography lexicon, in order to create a sharper image, thereby discovering the diaphragm. He used a bi-convex lens taken from a pair of ordinary spectacles used by old men—concave lenses suitable for short-sighted young people brought little success. A lens greatly improves the quality of the camera’s image because it allows for a much larger aperture that significantly increases the luminosity of the projection (the pinhole camera produces an image so dim that it is useless for the purpose of painting). Barbaro himself also suggested it could be used to make copies of maps. fig. 10 La pratica della perspettiva… (pp. 192–193) Daniele BarbaroPublsihed: Venice, C. & R. Borgominieri, 1568 Following Barabaro’s improvements of the lens, diaphragm and focusing mechanism, many writers began to recommend the camera as an aid to artists. For example, in 1521 Cesare Cesariano (1475–1543), an Italian painter, architect and architectural theorist, wrote that other than for astronomers and opticians (anyone who studies optics) the camera would be of great use for painters. Some modern writers have proposed that seventeenth-century lenses were largely inadequate for the purpose of painting with a camera obscura. But, according to Cartesn Wirth, “it was not so much the technology of lens grinding, which was still fairly undeveloped at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but rather the limitations of glass technology that presented a problem with regard to producing an objective for a camera obscura with a significantly large diameter. Defects in the glass or an irregularity in grounding have devastating effects in astronomic optics. In contrast, the image of the projection in a camera obscura is fairly insensitive to such faults. Many of the defects that are disturbing in a telescope optic are barely–or not at all– perceptible in the projecting optic of the camera. An unbiased viewer with no concept of a perfect optic might even admire the multiple optical effects in the image of the projection rather than judging them to be a disturbance.”4 Portable camera obscura In 1572, the German mathematician Friedrich Risner (c.1533–1580) proposed a portable camera obscura drawing aid; a lightweight wooden hut with lenses in each of its four walls that would project images of the surroundings on a paper cube in the middle. The construction could be carried on two wooden poles, like a litter used to transport royalty. A very similar setup was illustrated in 1645 in Athanasius Kircher’s Ars Magna Lucis Et Umbrae (fig. 11). fig. 11 Engraving of a “portable” camera obscura in Ars Magna Lucis Et UmbraeAthanasius Kircher1645 Mirror The use of a mirror in conjunction with the camera obscura was first suggested in a manuscript Theorica speculi concavi sphaerici by the Venitian Ettore Ausonio (1520–1570). In 1585, Giovanni Battista Benedetti (1530–1590) proposed the use of a mirror angled at 45 degrees to the direction of the light coming from the lens in order to right the image. In those times, however, mirrors were simply polished metal plates and as such were probably much less reflective than even the cheapest of today’s mirrors—the highly reflective mirrors of today were invented somewhere around 1850 when opticians learned how to apply a shiny silver film to a polished flat piece of glass. fig. 12 Illustration showing how to operate a camera obscura in The American educator; completely remodelled and rewritten from original text of the New practical reference library, with new plans and additional material (vol. 2; p. 652)Ellsworth Foster and James L. Hughes Publsiher: Ralph Durham Co. Chicago (IL) 1919 fig. 13 “Chambre noire portative pour dessin”Adolphe GanotEngraving from: Cours de physique purement expérimentale et sans mathématiques… , chez l’AuteurParis, 1863, p. 404, n° 245. In 1604, the term “camera obscura” (in Italian=dark room), was coined by the German astronomer Johannes Kepler (1571–1630) who developed the first portable camera obscura in the form of a tent (fig. 13), with a sheet of paper inside onto which the camera’s image could be projected. According to a letter written to Francis Bacon by Sir Henry Wotton (1568–1639) who met Kepler in Linz in 1620, this portable camera had been invented by Kepler for sketching the complete 360° panorama (although Wotton reported that Kepler used the camera obscura to draw from nature Kepler claimed he used it “as a mathematician, not as a painter.”) He hath a little black tent which he can suddenly set up where he will in a field, and it is convertible (like Wind-mill) to all quarters at pleasure capable of not much more than one man, as I conceive, and perhaps at no great ease; exactly close and dark, save at one hole, about an inch and a half in Diameter, to which he applies a long perspective-trunke, with the convex glass fitted to the said hole, and the concave taken out at the other end, which extendeth to about the middle of this erected Tent, through which the visible radiations all the objects without are intromitted, falling upon a paper, which is accommodated to receive them; and so he traceth them with his pen in their natural appearance, turning his little Tent round by degrees, till he hath designed the whole aspect of the field: this I have described to your Lordship, because I think there might be good use made of it for Chorography [the making of maps and topographical views]: For otherwise, to make landskips by it were illiberal, though surely no Painter can do them so precisely. (Reliquiae Wottoniae, London 1651, pp. 413-414.) In 1611, Frisian/German astronomers David (1564 –1617) and Johannes Fabricius (1587–1616) studied sunspots with a camera obscura, after realizing looking at the sun directly with the telescope could damage their eyes. They are thought to have combined the telescope and the camera obscura into camera obscura telescopy. From 1612 to at least 1630, Christoph Scheiner (c. 1573–1650), Jesuit priest, physicist and astronomer in Ingolstadt, would keep on studying sunspots and constructing new telescopic solar-projection systems ((fig. 14). He called these “Heliotropii Telioscopici,” later contracted to helioscope. For his helioscope studies, Scheiner built a box around the viewing/projecting end of the telescope, which can be seen as the oldest known version of a box-type camera obscura. Scheiner also made a portable camera obscura. fig. 14 Christoph Scheiner and a fellow Jesuit scientist trace sunspots in Italy in about 1625Rosa Ursina sive Sol ex admirando facularum & macularum suarum phoenomeno varius. (p. 150)Christoph Scheiner1626–1630Published Bracciano: Andreas Phaeus at the Ducal Press, 1626–1630 Box-type camera obscuras fig. 15 Camera Obscura by Georg Friedrich Brander, 1769 “By 1572, the room-type camera obscura had been shrunk down to a small, portable room, which can be thought of, after all, as a very large box. However, when pin-pointing the first appearance of box-type camera obscuras—devices in which the lens, the mirror and the screen on which the image was projected were put inside a small wooden box—most writers date it to around the mid-seventeenth century, nearly a hundred years later. Gaspar Schott (1608–1666) described a portable camera obscura in his Magia Universalis, in 1657, and in 1669 the British philosopher Robert Boyle (1627–1691), in his paper “Of The Systematicall And Cosmical Qualities Of Things, ” (1669) drew landscapes in a box-type camera, perhaps similar to figure 15, he claimed to have constructed ‘several years ago.'”5The portable camera fitted with a lens, mirror and translucent screen (fig. 11) became the standard configuration from the late seventeenth century onward. The simple portable camera (fig. 16 & 18)) is essentially a photographic camera without a light-sensitive film or plate. So simple but so effective is the device that it has changed only in size and decoration since the sixteenth century. In portable form, the camera obscura became popular for recording landscape and city views. Using a system of lenses and mirrors that allowed the image to appear on a translucent screen, draftsmen could trace the views to produce early versions of tourist snapshots. The booth-sized version of the camera obscura (fig. 17) was also useful to scientists interested in the behavior of light. The English natural philosopher, architect, polymath and tireless inventor Robert Hooke (1635–1703), built different types of portable cameras for making illustrations for the travel guides or topography. One particularly curious contraption was a “wearable” beak-like object (fig. 19) which, according to his description, was an “an instrument of use to take the draught, or picture of any thing” Philosphical Experiments and Observations (1762). At the time it had become evident that the lens in the camera should be as “bright” as possible, that is, have as large a diameter as possible. Hooke suggest using as a lens a “[…] Glass, which the larger it is the better, because of several Tryals that may be made with it, which cannot be made with a smaller [one].” In 1685, Johann Zahn (1641–1707) was probably the first to have designed a camera obscura that could be manually focused by moving the lens, instead of relocating the screen (fig. 18 & 21). fig. 16 Illustration from Adolphe Ganot, An Elementary Treatise on Physics, 1882 fig. 17 A booth-type camera obscura from Méthode Pour Apprendre Le Dessin, Ou l’On Donne Les Regles Générales de Ce Grand Art, Et Des Préceptes Pour En Acquérir La Connoissance, Et s’y … (p. 178)C. A. JombertParis, 1755 (p. 136) fig. 18 Illustration of a camera obscura in Oculus artificialis teledioptricus sive telescopium.. (p. 178)Johann ZahnPublisher: Sumptibus Johannis Christophori Lochneri Bibliopolæ, typis Johannis Ernesti Adelbulneri, Norimbergæ1702 fig. 19 “An Instrument of Use to take the Draught, or Picture of any Thing,” from Philosophical Experiments and Observations Robert HookeLondon, 1726Ink on paperUniversity of Michigan Camera obscuras of the period were fitted with a single converging lens. There is no mention of any use of multiple lens configuration needed for telescopy in relation to the device. In the time of Vermeer, lenses could be easily purchased from itinerant peddlers—lenses were primarily produced for spectacles—but if one needed a particular lens, for example, for a telescope, they could be ground to specification by a lens grinder. To be sure, a lens improves the luminosity of the image considerably, but it comes with some serious drawbacks. Everything towards the edges is blurry, color fringes appear around bright objects and objects that occupy different planes in space are not all in focus at the same time, even if they are located at the middle of the image. If, for example, Vermeer had brought into focus the foreground chair in The Art of Painting with a camera obscura, the wall-map and the chandelier would have appeared more as colored clouds than solid objects. The individual elements of both objects would have blended completely together and been impossible to distinguish, much less trace. This problem could be temporarily remedied by refocusing, i.e., moving the position of lens back and forth, but the objects that were previously in focus become blurry. There is no way that all planes can be brought into a focus with a single lens, no matter what its shape or configuration. Some authors have written that color is intensified in the camera obscura image, but this is not objectively proven by any means. Moreover, even the best image of the camera has an overall milky quality—one never has the sensation that absolute black can be perceived. Goethe (1749–1832) noted that the image cast by the lens causes everything to appear “as covered with a faint bloom, a kind of smokiness that reminds many painters of lard, and that fastens like a vice on the painter who uses the camera obscura.” But unlike the reflections in a mirror or water, the projection of the camera is perceived as relatively flat, a fact which is particularity advantageous for the painter. In any case, even in the best cases the image produced by the camera is never as sharp, contrasted or as colorful as any painting by Vermeer. The camera obscura in the time of Vermeer Thus, the camera obscura was well known in the time of Vermeer. As early as 1622, ten years before Vermeer was born, news of the camera obscura circulated in the Netherlands. In that year, Constantijn Huygens (1596–1687), who maintained contacts with eminent artists such as Rubens (1577–1640), Van Dyck (1599–1641), Rembrandt (1606–1669) and perhaps Vermeer himself, purchased a portable camera obscura in London6 from the Dutch engineer and inventor Cornelis Drebbel (1572–1633), and enthusiastically wrote about the image that it produces: I have at home Drebbel’s other instrument, which certainly makes admirable effects in painting from reflection in a dark room It is impossible to express its beauty in words. The art of painting is dead, for this is life itself: or something higher, if we could find a word for it. Shape, contour and movement come together naturally, in a way that is altogether pleasing. – Huygens would also report the names of at least two painters who knew about the device, which in his words was “now-a-days familiar to everyone…” Following the example of earlier Italian writers, Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627–1678), an accomplished Dutch painter and author of the widely read tract of painting Inleyding tot de Hooge Schoole der Schilderkonst (1678), recommended the camera obscura to painters: I am certain that the sight of these reflections in the darkness can be very illuminating to the young painter’s vision; for besides acquiring knowledge of nature, one also sees here the overall aspect which a truly natural painting should have. A second time he calls the optical machine “a picture-making invention with which one can paint by means of reflections in a closed and darkened room everything which is outside.” However, even though the device was enthusiastically recommended for painting, at least one painter is know to have concealed his familiarity with it, leaving open the possibility that other painters may have used it but chose to conceal their involvement. Thus, as an aid to painting per se, the camera obscura cannot be considered absolutely innovative in Vermeer’s time: it may be said that a fair number of Dutch painters knew it, and a few probably worked with it, although never on a systematic basis. No documented source that suggests that Vermeer knew of or used a camera obscura has come down to us. “In Delft, vision-extending and vision-transforming instruments such as the camera obscura must have been readily available. They were the passion of Anthonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), an industrious researcher now best known for his discovery of micro-organisms through the microscope. It is almost impossible to imagine that these exact contemporaries, both baptized in 1632 and both high achievers in their fields, would not have come across each other in the small city of Delft.”7 It has also been suggested…that Vermeer developed an interest in optics through a connection with the painter Carel Fabritius (1622–1654), who moved to Delft in about 1650; or, via Fabritius, with his friend Van Hoogstraten of Dordrecht. Both men were fascinated by the trompe-l’oeil and perspective illusion.8 In any case, the reflected image of the camera obscura, no matter how novel it may have appeared in the seventeenth century, was probably a bit more familiar to the Dutch people who were used to living in a world of reflections, constantly seeing their houses, trees and skies mirrored in canals and lakes.9 It is said that Constantijn Huygens II, a skilled lens maker and draughtsman made a series of landscapes that presumably bear the hallmarks of the camera obscura, although there is no documented evidence that the device was actually used in this case (fig. 20). There is only one source that specifically claims that painters of Vermeer’s time actually used the camera obscura as an aid to their painting. G. J. s’Gravesande, who was born thirteen years after Vermeer’s death, wrote : “Several Dutch painters are said to have studied and imitated, in their paintings, the effect of the camera obscura and its manner of showing nature, which has led some people to think that the camera could help them to understand light or chiaroscuro. The effect of the camera is striking, but false.” fig. 20 View of the IjsselConstanitjn Huygens5 June 1672Pen and ink, Sepia ink, WatercolourThe Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London The Italian landscape painters Canaletto (1697–1768), and Bernardo Bellotto (c. 1721–1780) are said by some art historians to have used the camera to create perspective views of Venice and other cities. Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) constructed a small portable camera, presently conserved in the Science Museum of London, for portrait painting.10 After that, the camera was never taken seriously among artists although it continued to be employed by topographical draftsmen and as a source of entertainment to this very day. It should be remembered that when the device began to be used by professional painters in the eighteenth century, it was never intended as to aid to capture light or darkness, or reproduce color. When mentioned in relation to painting it was almost universally understood to be useful in rendering a complex scene into its outlines, reducing a landscape, for instance, into a series of lines, zones, or bands. fig. 21 Various types of portable camera obscuras in Oculus artificialis teledioptricus… (p. 181)Johann Zahn1658 Published: Herbipoli, Würzburg, Germany But the future of the camera obscura lay not in its usefulness to painters, but as an indispensable precursor to the modern photographic camera. Why is “Tim’s Vermeer” so Controversial? On November 17, 2016 Screenshot from Tim’s Vermeer. Tim Jenison sits in his recreation of the room in Vermeer’s The music lesson. “What do you think about the theory that Vermeer used an elaborate technique involving mirrors when he painted (as proposed in the movie Tim’s Vermeer)?” – asked by Michael Note: This post will contain spoilers for the movie Tim’s Vermeer. The documentary film Tim’s Vermeer follows inventor Tim Jenison on his quest to recreate a Vermeer painting using a system of mirrors. The film argues that Vermeer could have used this method when creating his artworks. It also – whether on purpose or not – opens up some interesting art historical debates regarding the concept of “artistic genius” and the separation of art and technology. I had never seen this movie when I received this question, so for those of you in my situation, here’s a short description: Tim’s Vermeer is a 2013 American documentary film about inventor Tim Jenison’s experiments with duplicating Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s paintings. His experiments were based on the idea that Vermeer created his artworks with the help of mirrors. Jenison eventually succeeds in figuring out a technique that allows him to perfectly paint a scene in front of him despite having no artistic training. He thus reconstructs and paints the scene depicted in Vermeer’s The music lesson (1662 – 1665). The music lesson (1662 – 1665), Johannes Vermeer First of all, for those who don’t know who Johannes Vermeer is: Vermeer was a Dutch artist, and is one of the most famous artists of all time. You might know him as the artist behind Girl With A Pearl Earring (1665). Vermeer was active during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century, and is especially known for his beautifully still and intricate genre paintings. Given that Vermeer is such a famous artist, the film has been controversial with many art historians and art critics. So let’s take a look at what happens in it, and why it’s been so controversial. Painting using mirrors The claim that Vermeer used some sort of optical device to create his paintings is not new. Vermeer’s life is still a bit of a mystery to us. As the film states, we don’t have any documentation about how he was trained or what sort of methods he used while painting. We do know, however, that mirrors and optical devices were widely known in 17th century Dutch society. This factor, along with the photorealistic quality of Vermeer’s paintings, has caused speculation about his potential use of mirror technology. Illustration of camera obscura in De Radio Astronomica et Geometrica (1545), Gemma Frisius Tim Jenison’s theory is inspired by a book, Vermeer’s Camera, written by architect Philip Steadman. It argues that Vermeer used a camera obscura to create his paintings – a theory that in itself has existed since the late 19th century. A camera obscura is a device that allows for a naturally occurring optical phenomenon: when one side of a darkened room or box gets a small hole put into it, the image on the other side becomes projected onto the surface opposite the hole. A lens can then be put into the hole to change the image. Camera obscura devices have been in used as aids for drawing and painting for centuries. Illustration of a portable camera obscura device from Johann Cristoph Sturm’s Collegium experimentale, sive curiosum (1676) The specific technology that Jenison invents (or rediscovers) involves a mirror rather than a camera obscura. The problem with the camera obscura is that, if you try to paint over the projection, the colour becomes distorted. Instead, Jenison fastens a small mirror above the canvas at a 45 degree angle. This allows him to paint around it until he finds the exact colour, constantly monitoring the reflection. Screenshot from Tim’s Vermeer. A demonstration of the mirror technique used in the film. After some adjustments to the technique, Jenison eventually succeeds in painting an entire Vermeer painting over the course of several years. He does this by reconstructing the exact scene from the artwork in real life and then using the mirror to paint it. Although we can’t prove it (and might never be able to), the theory holds up. It should, in my opinion, be taken seriously as a possibility. It has the support of art historians and artists, and builds on the two most fundamental art historical methods: visual analysis and historical context. The reaction In the film, Philip Steadman tells Jenison that, when Vermeer’s Camera came out, it caused a “really deep anguish” amongst art historians. But if the theory is valid, where does the controversy come from? Well, in many ways, the movie challenges the idea of “artistic genius”. This is a concept usually applied to the Western canon of artists. The canon is a generally agreed-upon list of the “greatest” artists in art history. It consists of artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo, Claude Monet, Rembrandt van Rijn, and – of course – Vermeer. They’re considered the most innovative, groundbreaking artists throughout history – essentially, geniuses. With very few exceptions, the Western canon consists almost exclusively of white male artists. This norm persists in art historical books, museums, university courses and research. So in questioning the ideals of the canon, we also have to question the idea of “genius”. Do only white male artists possess “genius”, or is a constructed concept? Does clinging to the idea of genius stop us from exploring new, interesting avenues in art history? Does it stop us from actually getting a better understanding of the artists we’re studying? No matter how much the idea of “genius” has already been challenged, the reaction to Tim’s Vermeer shows that we still have a long way to go. Art critic Jonathan Jones, in his review in The Guardian, argues that – although the theory is “highly possible” – the movie is “a depressing attempt to reduce genius to a trick”. He goes on to say that “the mysterious genius of Vermeer is exactly what’s missing from Tim’s Vermeer. It is arrogant to deny the enigmatic nature of Vermeer’s art.” Left: The music lesson (copy) (2013), Tim Jenison. Right: The music lesson (1662 – 1665), Johannes Vermeer. Of course, simply copying Vermeer’s artwork doesn’t make Jenison an amazing artist. Looking at the comparison above, it’s clear that Vermeer has a better handle on things like weight, depth and texture. And Jenison didn’t put together the composition itself – that was all Vermeer. There are definitely some good criticisms out there of the film and the way it oversimplifies Vermeer’s art. But the film’s very existence forces us to confront our pre-existing ideas regarding the Old Masters. As Jenison points out in the movie, the separation of technology and art is a new concept. And, although ideas of “genius” have popped up throughout art history, our ideas of artistic genius as related to individual originality and creativity, rather than simply talent and knowledge, became ingrained and widespread in the West as late as the 19th century, most clearly shown through the ideals of Romanticism. Before that, artists usually produced their work for patrons rather than for themselves, and often worked with assistants and masters rather than alone. Our modern ideas of “artistic genius” could be said to originate from the Romanticism art movement, such as Wanderer above the sea of fog (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich. Reducing Vermeer’s innovations and painterly practices to the useless idea of “genius” actually keeps us from fully understanding his work, and we need to allow space for research that contradicts it. Tim’s Vermeer asks some difficult, but necessary questions. Taking its theory seriously doesn’t mean that Vermeer was any less talented, or that his work should mean any less. It just means that, as art historians, we have to be willing to abolish the idea of “genius” and look at the wide range of artistic practices that exist across the world and throughout history. Note: Article as been edited to clarify the idea of “genius” as appearing in the 19th century. 21
Compare and contrast two works from two different movements in this module: realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, NeoClassicism or another that you are interested in. Think about these artists in relat
European and American Art in the 18th and 19th Centuries Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form The Enlightenment Neoclassicism was the dominant artistic style of the Enlightenment period and drew inspiration from the classical art and culture of Ancient Greece and Rome. Learning Objectives Describe the shifts in thinking and artwork that characterized the Enlightenment Key Takeaways Key Points European Neoclassicism in the visual arts began c. 1760 in opposition to the decadence of Baroque and Rococo styles. The austerity and sobriety of Neoclassicism echoed the spirit of the French Revolution. The French painter Nicholas Poussin was a master of the Neoclassical style. Neoclassicism was especially strong in those areas where classical examples were most abundant, such as in architecture and sculpture. Painting, in contrast, had fewer classical antecedents to reference. Key Terms Neoclassicism: Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theater, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the “classical” art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome. Rococo: Rococo, also referred to as Late Baroque, is an 18th-century artistic movement and style, which affected several aspects of the arts, including painting, sculpture, architecture, interior design, decoration, literature, music, and theater. Enlightenment: A philosophical movement in 17th and 18th century Europe; the Age of Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, emphasized rationalism. Overview The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was a movement that began during the 18th century in Europe and the American colonies. The key figures of the movement sought to reform society using the power of reason. Started by the preeminent philosophers of the day, the Enlightenment era lasted from about 1650 to 1800, promoting science, reason, and intellectual exchange. The idea of advancing knowledge through reason emerged in response to new technology and the ability to exchange information easily thanks to mass printing, and also out of a backlash against previous systems, which valued the church and tradition above all else. The authority of science and empirical thought increasingly displaced religious authority, and the disciplines of alchemy and astrology lost credibility, leaving the more easily confirmed chemistry and astronomy. Scientific thought became more and more developed. The Enlightenment has long been hailed as the foundation of modern Western political and intellectual culture. The Enlightenment encouraged criticism of the corruption of Louis XVI and the aristocracy in France, leading to the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. In 1792, Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were beheaded along with thousands of other aristocrats believed to be loyal to the monarchy. Art During the Enlightenment Previous to the Enlightenment, the dominant artistic style was Rococo. When the Enlightenment and its new ideals took hold, Rococo was condemned for being immoral, indecent, and indulgent, and a new kind of instructive art was called for, which became known as Neoclassicism. In opposition to the frivolous sensuality of Rococo painters like Jean-Honoré Fragonard and François Boucher, the Neoclassicists looked to the artist Nicolas Poussin for their inspiration. Poussin’s work favors line over color and predominantly features clarity, logic, and order. His work served as an alternative to the dominant Baroque style of the 17th century. Poussin was the major inspiration for such classically oriented artists as Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and Paul Cézanne. Et in Arcadia Ergo by Nicholas Poussin, c. 1630s: Poussin came to define Neoclassical artwork with work that favored line over color and a rather stark lack of frivolity. The Neoclassical Style Neoclassicism is characterized by clarity of form, sober colors, shallow space, and strong horizontals. Its verticals render the subject matter timeless, instead of temporal, as in the dynamic Baroque works, and depicts classical subject matter—or classicizes contemporary subject matter. Neoclassicists believed that strong drawing was rational, and therefore morally superior, and that art should be cerebral, not sensual. The Neoclassicists wanted to express rationality and sobriety that was fitting for their times. Artists like David supported the rebels in the French Revolution through an art that asked for clear-headed thinking, self-sacrifice to the State (as in Oath of the Horatii), and an austerity reminiscent of Republican Rome. Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David, 1784: David was an extremely influential figure in the Neoclassical movement. His strong use of line, balance, and geometry suited the movement’s ideals of order and austerity. Neoclassicism was strongest in architecture, sculpture, and the decorative arts, where classical models in the same medium were relatively numerous and accessible. Rococo architecture emphasizes grace, ornamentation, and asymmetry; Neoclassical architecture is based on the principles of simplicity and symmetry, which were seen as virtues in the arts of Rome and Ancient Greece, and were more immediately drawn from 16th century Renaissance Classicism. The Grand Tour and Its Portraits The Grand Tour was a customary trip to Europe undertaken by wealthy Europeans and some Americans. Learning Objectives Describe the stops along the Grand Tour in Europe Key Takeaways Key Points The Grand Tour was viewed as an educational rite of passage typically for young men, but sometimes women as well. The Grand Tour tradition was extended to include the middle class when railroad and ship travel became more widespread in the second half of the 18th century. The Grand Tour generally involved the study of art at museums and universities, private collections, and notable architectural sites. Souvenirs and mementos became an important element as they could demonstrate the specifics of which location was visited and what was seen or acquired. The artist Pompeo Batoni made a career of painting portraits of English tourists posed among Roman antiquities and became very popular in Rome. Batoni’s paintings made it into numerous private collections in Britain, thus ensuring the genre ‘s popularity in the United Kingdom. Key Terms rite of passage: A ceremony or series of ceremonies, often very ritualized, to celebrate a transition in a person’s life. Baptisms, bar mitzvahs, weddings, and funerals are among the best known examples. The Grand Tour was a customary trip to Europe undertaken by wealthy Europeans and some Americans that flourished as a tradition from about 1660 to 1840. The trip was viewed as an educational rite of passage typically for young men, but sometimes women as well. It was intended as a means of cultural broadening and associated with a fairly standard itinerary. The Grand Tour tradition was extended to include the middle class when railroad and ship travel became more widespread in the second half of the 18th century. The travel itinerary typically began in Dover, England and crossed the English Channel to Ostend or to Calais in France. From here the tourist and “bear-leader,” or tutor, and possibly a troupe of servants, could rent a coach and travel to Paris. From Paris they would travel to Switzerland, then Spain, and Northern Italy. Once in Italy, the tourist would visit Turin, and might spend a few months in Florence and Venice, which was the epitome of the Grand Tour for most British tourists. From Venice they would go to Rome to study the ruins and masterpieces and possibly to the archaeological sites at Pompeii. Next was the German section of Europe, such as Vienna, Dresden, Berlin, and Potsdam, and finally to Holland and Flanders before making the trip home. The journey generally involved the study of art at museums and universities, private collections, and notable architectural sites. The pilgrimage was popularized further by the advent of tour guides, such as Thomas Cook, which became synonymous with the Grand Tour. Grand Tourists were known to travel with an entourage that included valets, coachmen, scholarly guide and possibly a cook. Souvenirs and mementos became an important element as they could demonstrate the specifics of which location was visited and what was seen or acquired. Their popularity created an industry of sorts, and prices rose with the growth of the trend. Some Grand Tourists invited artists from home to accompany them throughout their travels, painting views specific to their personal itineraries. Despite the political upheaval, 18th century Rome remained a desirable destination. It became an absolute necessity for people of means to spend time in Rome as part of their “Grand Tour,” or educational pilgrimage. The city became a nexus for these tourists as well as the merchants and industries that resulted from their patronage. The increasing popularity of the Grand Tour, and the related desire for visitors to collect “classical” souvenirs, quickly spread the Neoclassical style throughout Europe. It became a symbol of wealth and freedom to go on the Grand Tour and to have something to show for it displayed in your home. A popular souvenir of the Grand Tour was a portrait of the tourists themselves, often painted amidst the architecture, or famous art works of a particular European location. The artist Pompeo Batoni, made a career of painting portraits of English tourists posed among Roman antiquities. He became very popular in Rome and his portraits of the British traveling through the city were in very high demand. There are records of over 200 portraits of visiting British patrons standing amidst ruins and great works of art by Batoni. These paintings made it into numerous private collections in Britain, thus ensuring the genre’s popularity in the United Kingdom. A portrait by Pompeo Batoni: A popular souvenir of the Grand Tour was a portrait of the tourists themselves, like this one, painted amidst the architecture or famous art works of a particular European location. Neoclassical Art – A Return to Symmetry in the Neoclassical Period The Neoclassical period, Neoclassicism or Neo-Classicism, was a revival of Greek and Roman art and architecture in Europe. It occurred around the middle of the 1700s (18th Century) and continued during the 1800s (19th Century). Neoclassicism was not only a result of new discoveries from Greek and Roman art and architecture, but it was also a revolt against the opulence of the Baroque and Rococo art movements that came before. An Introduction to Neoclassicism First, let us look at the term “Neoclassical”, the prefix neo originates from Greek roots (néos), according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online it translates to “young, fresh, new”. The word “classics” also translates from the Latin word classicus, which denotes the highest rank, or highest class. The term Classical refers to the Classical era when Greek and Roman ideals thrived and informed a way of life and culture. It was in fact a new movement in the arts, spanning not only painting, but architecture, sculpture, and even the decorative arts and interiors like furniture. But, what made Neoclassicism new? Let us explore it further. Details for Derby House in Grosvenor Square (1777) by Robert and James Adam; See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons The Renaissance vs. the Age of Enlightenment Neoclassicism art was a revival of Classical ideals, and it is important to place it contextually to understand it as a movement. Neoclassicism was influenced by significant changes taking place in Europe, specifically two massive shifts within society after the Medieval Ages. We have the Renaissance, which lasted from the 1300s to the 1600s. During this time in Europe, there were changes and advances in almost every aspect of human understanding and the humanities, for example, technology, science, mathematics, politics, and culture. And then we have the Age of Enlightenment (or Age of Reason), which started during the 1600s (17th Century) and lasted until the early 1800s (19th Century). Artists during the Renaissance period sought to emulate the Classical ideals from the Greek and Roman periods. Art was naturalistic and true to reality, along with the philosophical ideals of Humanism, which placed the individual at the center of his creative power. The term Renaissance means “rebirth” and it was undoubtedly a rebirth of new ways of seeing and exploring life. Portrait of a Bearded man with a Cap and a Fur-Tanned Coat (1530) by a member of the Danube School; Circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons The Age of Enlightenment, also Age of Reason, was founded in philosophical thought. Reason became the identifying factor for many ideals like progress, liberty, fraternity, and tolerance, to name a few. Reason and philosophical thought were regarded as a means of higher understanding of man’s place in the world. The Age of Enlightenment was influenced by the Scientific Revolution, which developed during the final remnants of the Renaissance period. It informed many of the science-based faculties like mathematics, biology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, including human anatomy. It replaced many ideas regarded as scientific, for example, astrology. It also utilized the new scientific method, which approached research with more scientific experimentation based on quantitative facts and observation. This was also what led to Empiricism, which believed knowledge only derives from the external world of the senses and experience. Philosophers and scientists from the Enlightenment period were influenced by many of the ideas from the Scientific Revolution and they also had an educational background in science. This period in history saw the dominance of science over religion and how new fact-based concepts replaced the faith-based way of viewing life and nature. The forerunners of the Enlightenment and their seminal publications were cornerstones to the development of rational thought and set the foundations for the developments of this era. These included, among others, Isaac Newton’s (1642-1727) Principia Mathematica (1686) and John Locke’s (1632-1704) Essay Concerning Human Understanding(1689). Title Page of Principia (1687) by Isaac Newton; The original uploader was Zhaladshar at English Wikisource., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons The Influences and Development of Neoclassicism Although the Enlightenment was a major proponent of the development of Neoclassicism, other major proponents included the work of Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768) who wrote his seminal works on Classical art and architecture and the rise of exploration in Europe, specifically the Grand Tour. With the rise in popularity of the new fields of Archaeology and the digging of ancient sites like Herculaneum (excavated in 1738) and Pompeii (excavated in 1748), there was an increased curiosity to discover antiquity. The Grand Tour made a new way of discovering antiquity possible throughout Europe. Excavations at Pompeii (1886) by François-Louis Français; François-Louis Français, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons It was done as a rite of passage for young, coming of age, upper-class men, as well as artists and scholars seeking higher education. It involved an extended period of travel around the artistic and cultural hubs in Europe, which included Greece and Rome. Although the Grand Tour was only for the upper class, men brought back many souvenirs from their travels, and their extensive collections disseminated the art and culture from the Classical era informing the Neoclassical movement. It was also German, Winckelmann, that laid the foundation for art historical texts about Greek and Roman artworks, but also creating the first chronological ordering of Greek art and architecture within a scholarly text. Winckelmann was famously known as the “father” of art history as he wrote two important publications that would become significant contributions in art history. These two publications were, “Thoughts on the Imitations of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture” (Gedanken über die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerei und Bildhauerkunst (1750) and “The History of Art in Antiquity” (Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums) (1764). A photograph of the Colonnade Parthenon Acropolis in Athens, Greece (2015); Jebulon, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons The first publication had a profound effect on the theoretical frameworks of Neoclassicism as it explored the importance of imitating Greek Art. He is often quoted from his text, “the one way for us to become great, perhaps inimitable, is by imitating the ancients”. However, it is important to note there has been considerable debate among art scholars as to the context in which Winckelmann places his term “imitation”. It is also important to distinguish between the ideas of “imitating” and “copying” art, which are concepts Winckelmann expounded on in his reflections. He explored the Classical ideals extensively in his texts, although some scholarly sources also indicate that it is important to place his observations within careful context, namely that he never traveled to Greece himself, and he only came into contact with these artworks through Rome. Nonetheless, his contributions impacted the world of art history for centuries to come. The Key Characteristics of Neoclassical Art There are many identifiable characteristics of Neoclassicism art, but one of the primary ideas of this art movement was the move away from the overly decorative style of the Baroque and Rococo art movements. We will notice the Neoclassical style in painting, architecture, and sculpture. However, this style was not only within the arts, but it was also dominant in music, theatre, and literature. Below we look at some of the common characteristics that define and shape Neoclassical Art. Daphnis Bestowing a Garland of Flowers on Chloe (1776) by Antonio Zucchi; Antonio Zucchi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Noble Simplicity “Noble simplicity” is often cited from the forefather of the Neoclassical ideals, Johan Joachim Winckelmann in his publication “Thoughts on the Imitations of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture” (1750), as he writes about Greek sculptures and their inherent “quiet grandeur”. He exemplifies this further with reference to the art of Raphael, who was one of the best-known painters during the High Renaissance. One of the primary characteristics of Neoclassical art was its return to ideals of “simplicity”, “symmetry”, “proportion”, and “harmony”. This simplicity of form and shape was seen in Neoclassical painting, architecture, and sculpture. It was a revival of the simplicity of form and shape from the Greek and Roman periods. This simplicity was also expressed through subdued and often tempered colors, which were meant to indicate a formality and a somewhat superiority. This element of superiority was seen in the age of Antiquity and many ideals related to morals and ethics. Didactic Subject Matter It was the strong belief in virtues and morals that underpinned the narratives and effects of storytelling through Neoclassical painting. The type of subject matter utilized was of mythological scenes and characters, as well as historical scenes taken from Greek and Roman sources. It was also believed that Neoclassical Art was meant to help whoever viewed it by telling a story that inspired and gave a message based on morals and ethical values. There was often an element of heroism in the narrative, as well as a distinct seriousness and austerity. In other words, Neoclassical art was didactic, which means its message was meant to convey a lesson. Famous Neoclassical Artists Although there were many great artists of the Neoclassical period, below we look at some of the more popular Neoclassical artists and their artworks within the fields of painting, sculpting, and architecture. There are two important artists worth noting when it comes to influences on Neoclassical Art and they are, namely, Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665) and Claude Lorrain (c.1604-1682). Et in Arcadia ego (1638-40) by Nicolas Poussin; Nicolas Poussin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via The above-mentioned artists were French, from the Baroque period. However, their style depicted the classical ideals of the orderliness of composition and historical scenes often from the Bible, mythology, or history. Nicolas Poussin was highly regarded for his paintings of the above-mentioned subject matter, including his more rational approach to painting versus expressiveness and ostentatiousness seen in Baroque Art. Poussin’s art was also influenced by Hellenistic principles and he painted in a way where those who viewed it would receive a deeper meaning from the narrative portrayed. He influenced notable Neoclassical painters like Jacques-Louis David. Neoclassical Painting Neoclassical painting can be divided into two distinct developmental stages, namely, Early and Late Neoclassicism. It evolved as the opposite in style and composition to that of its precedent, the Rococo, where paintings appeared lighter and more extravagant in style. Neoclassical painting is characterized by a cleaner manner of brushwork and application, we will see a smoother surface with brushstrokes creating solidity instead of airiness, furthermore, forms are depicted with more solidity and definition. Color is also true to nature and subject matter is portrayed true to history or mythology. Maria mit dem Kind und zwei Engeln (‘Maria with the child and two angels,’ 1773) by Anton Raphael Mengs; Anton Raphael Mengs, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons The Neoclassical painting style developed in Rome with Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779) setting the foundations along with Johann Joachim Winckelmann. The style evolved in Britain with other notable artists like the Swiss Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807) and Benjamin West (1738-1820). During the Later Neoclassical period, artists like Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) led the style in France and became the epitome of the Neoclassical style. The distinguishing factor for Neoclassical painting is that artists painted their subject matter from the examples they found from Ancient Greek and Roman architecture and sculpture, as well as from examples of paintings before them, like Baroque and Rococo. Below we look at some of the artworks from the prominent Neoclassical painters of their time. Anton Raphael Mengs (1728 – 1779) Mengs was a Bohemian painter and considered one of the forerunners of Neoclassical painting, although he still painted within the Baroque style at the time. He believed in the significance and place of the Classical, this was also a shared value and belief with the Winckelmann, with who he worked closely. According to various scholarly sources, Mengs was described by Winckelmann as the “greatest” artist of his time. Parnassus (1761) by Anton Raphael Mengs; Anton Raphael Mengs, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons One of his well-known artworks Parnassus (1761) depicts his move towards the Neoclassical period. It was created as an oil sketch as part of the fresco for the Villa Albani located in Rome. Mengs was inspired by Raphael’s fresco similarly titled The Parnassus (c.1509-1511). It depicts a mythological story about Apollo (the Sun God), which is in the center of the composition surrounded by various muses. In this painting by Mengs, we notice the more subdued coloring on the robes and cleaner lines of the form. Benjamin West (1738 – 1820) Benjamin West was an American-born painter, however, through his extensive travels to Rome and then England he became one of the popular British painters, with subject matter centered on historical narratives. West also intended for his paintings to have a deeper moral meaning. He was deeply influenced by the Classical ideals from the Greek and Roman art he experienced during his travels to Rome, which he undertook during the 1760s, as well the ideals and virtues from the Enlightenment. West also studied under prominent scholars Winckelmann and collaborated with other popular artists of the time, namely Angelica Kaufmann and Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798). West has an extensive historical background, especially his time spent in England. He was a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768, of which he became the president, and painted for King George III. The Death of General Wolfe (1770) by Benjamin West; Benjamin West, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Some of West’s notable artworks include The Death of General Wolfe (1770), which was one of his most famous artworks depicting the Battle of Quebec. What made this artwork so revolutionary was how West depicted the characters in their modern-day uniforms, and not in classical dress, however, this is reported to have been done already by another artist, Edward Penny (1714-1791). Angelica Kauffman (1741 – 1807) Angelica Kaufmann was a Swiss-born artist and displayed artistic talent from a young age. She became a famous artist during her time in London, where she moved to after a period of traveling to Europe with her father. She managed to support herself successfully as a female artist and was well respected as such by her community. Kaufmann had a wide scope as a painter, including portraits, landscape, and decorative painting. She was known as having a style related to Rococo Art, but she also adopted the Neoclassical style of history painting during the 1770s. She drew inspiration from Classical texts by writers like Homer and Alexander Pope. She also worked alongside Benjamin West, as another member of the Royal Academy, and both artists popularized British historical paintings. Virgil Writing his Epitaph at Brundisi (1785) by Angelica Kauffman; Carnegie Museum of Art, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Some of her more famous artworks include Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to Her Children as her Treasures(1785), wherein we notice the differences in how subject matter is portrayed compared to the more light-hearted Rococo style. Evident in this painting is a more serious tone, and figures are depicted in more subdued colors. The subject matter is also of Roman history of the politicians Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825) Jacques-Louis David is probably considered the epitome of Neoclassical painters and his artworks truly depict the essence of Neoclassical ideals and style. Born in Paris, David would continue his art career in Rome, where he also produced many of his most famous paintings, for example, The Oath of the Horatii (1784). It is important to note that David produced his artworks during the same time of the French Revolution, and he was also a part of the French Revolution, specifically part of the Jacobin political club during 1789. His famous piece, The Oath of the Horatii (1784), was also associated with the French Revolution and what it stood for, but it is known that this piece was produced for a patron before the events of the Revolution. Oath of the Horatii (1786) by Jacques-Louis David; Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons When we look at this famous piece by David, we clearly notice the clean lines, symmetry, and heroic virtues so characteristic of the Neoclassical movement. It depicts the Roman story of the Horatii trio of brothers swearing to protect their country, Rome, against the Albans, of which also three brothers, the Curatii, would be their counterparts in battle. The composition clearly portrays the subject matter, we see the three brothers to the left and women mourning behind them (one of them in a relationship with one of the Curatii brothers, which emphasizes their distraught emotions). The central figure is Horatius, holding up three swords for the three brothers. Behind the figures, we notice three distinct arches, each one congruent with the figures in the foreground. The arches place more emphasis on the figures and what is taking place in the foreground, this, again, is highlighted by the stark lighting making the whole scene clear. We notice David keeps the composition simple and does not distract by adding any other elements or decorations to the painting. The three arches in the background create a seeming backdrop, which “sets the stage”, so to say, for the central figures in the foreground. Other important artworks by David include the Death of Marat (1793), which depicts the dead body of Jean-Paul Marat, who was murdered by Charlotte Corday. Marat was a French politician and journalist, among other merits. This painting was done during the height of the French Revolution and what was known as the Reign of Terror, which consisted of public executions and numerous massacres. The Death of Marat (1793) by Jacques-Louis David; Jacques-Louis David, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons This painting was done in memory of Marat and we will notice how David idealized the dead figure using Biblical references of Christ’s dead body. This is evident in the Marat’s hanging arm, symbolizing Christ’s arm with reference to the Michelangelo’s marble sculpture titled, Pietà, the turban around his head, which is a symbol for a halo, and the seeming gracefulness of his dead body – there is a sense of martyrdom depicted. What makes the painting more real is the letter in Marat’s hand, which is clearly readable. It is from Charlotte Corday herself, it is written in French and translated to English, it reads: “July 13, 1793. Marie Anne Charlotte Corday to the citizen Marat – Given that I am unhappy, I have a right to your help”. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867) Ingres was another prominent French Neoclassical painter who studied under the tutelage of Jacques-Louis David. He was a strong proponent of Poussin’s style of art, which was towards more rational and clear approaches to depicting elements like form and line. However, we will notice there is more expressiveness of form in his paintings, which is reminiscent of the attributes associated with Romanticism. An example of one of his artworks is the La Grande Odalisque (1814), which depicts a nude woman staring at the onlooker. This artwork has continued into the Modern era in terms of the place of female nudes and the relationship with the male as the onlooker. La Grande Odalisque (1814) by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres; Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons We also notice how Ingres is still utilizing the subject matter as a female nude, characteristic of the Classical era, he also utilizes the, often termed, “clean lines”, characteristic of Neoclassical art, but he moves beyond the rigidity of Neoclassicism in the manner he depicts the nude – there is more expressiveness and a turn away from the overt realism of human form as we notice her proportions are not exactly true to nature. Neoclassical Sculpture Neoclassical sculptures drew considerable inspiration from the archaeological digs in Rome and Greece at the time, especially that of Pompeii. Sculptors were also provided with a wide variety of models to work from, this was quite the opposite for Neoclassical paintings, which had a lesser number of real-life examples to work from to emulate the Classical ideals. Some common characteristics of Neoclassical sculpture include its size, sculptures would often be made life-sized and focused on symmetrical correctness. Subject matter often had a more serious tone but would range from mythological, to historical, even to real-life personalities like actors, singers, and famous philosophers as is evident in the work of Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828), who produced his famous portrait busts. Bust of Christoph Willibard Gluck (1775) by Jean-Antoine Houdon; Jean-Antoine Houdon, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Another common trait among Neoclassical sculptors was a combination of depicting subject matter in idealistic forms or with naturalism and realism referred to as verism, which was also referred to as “warts and all”. This manner of depiction was used in Roman sculpture and believed in including all the traits seen on a body, whether it be warts, wrinkles, or anything else that would be considered “imperfections” – this gave a heightened sense of realism. Some of the top Neoclassical sculptors included Jean-Antoine Houdon (mentioned above), who was in France as a leading sculptor during the French Enlightenment period, Antonio Canova (1757-1822), and Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), who were pioneering sculptors working in Rome. Each sculptor had a different approach. However, they are also noted to have depicted a sense of idealism in their sculptures. Thorvaldsen and Canova sculpted mythological subject matter, examples of their sculptures include Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (1787-1793), housed in the Louvre in Paris. It depicts Cupid and Psyche in the throes of kissing after she was woken up by Psyche himself with a kiss. Canova was born Italian and primarily worked in Rome. He was well-known to have produced work that was more “warm” and light in its portrayal. Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (1787) by Antonio Canova; Kurtab123, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons Thorvaldsen worked in Rome during his adult years and focused on works that were heroic in nature. He was original of Danish descent, born in Copenhagen. An example of his work includes Jason with the Golden Fleece(1802-1803) and Monument to Copernicus (1822-1830). Many sources indicate that Thorvaldsen’s work has been described as more “severe” in its style. He depicted his subject matter with a sense of dignity and heroism. We are able to notice this sense of severity in his well-known work Jason and the Golden Fleece (1802-1803), having depicted the mythological character of Jason with a sense of heroic prowess, even though the actual character of Jason in mythology was not hailed exactly as a hero. Neoclassical Architecture Neoclassical architecture became a testament to the ideals and virtues in Neoclassicism. There have been countless buildings of all types constructed within the Neoclassical style. Neoclassical architecture also conveys seriousness and orderliness in its construction and facades, so to say, having imitated Greek and Roman architecture. It started flourishing during the middle of the 18th Century and found all over Europe in countries like Germany, France, Russia, and Britain. The Neoclassical architectural style was also influenced by two important architects, namely, the Roman Vitruvius, from the 1st Century BC, and the Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). Palladio was known for simplifying the already existing architectural structures and elements existent from the Renaissance. He was influenced by Greek and Roman architecture; however, it is also noted that he did not exactly imitate these structures, but included his own elements to innovate new designs. He was also similarly influenced by Vitruvius and how he utilized elements like symmetry and proportion. A photograph of Inigo Jones’ Portal at Chiswick House built in 1621; Matt Brown from London, England, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons Common characteristics of Neoclassical architecture include the focus on planar surfaces versus the more sculptural surfaces seen in the Baroque and Rococo styles of architecture. It also utilized the Classical Orders, which consisted of columns like the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. These orders were prevalent in Greek architecture and similarly used in the Neoclassical buildings. Other features include the emphasis on walls appearing long and, especially, blank in its surface. It is classified as utilizing geometric shapes, clean lines, and “block” shapes. The block shape (rectangular or squared) in Neoclassical architecture is widely visible, it is often coupled with a flat roof and a dome, with a repetition of columns. Neoclassical architecture also consisted of two phases, or periods, namely, Early, or Palladian, and High Neoclassical architecture. The Early period was during the 1700s to 1750s and was significantly influenced by Palladio. The forerunners of this period were architects like Inigo Jones (1573-1652) and Colen Campbell (1676-1729). A well-known example of this style is the Chiswick House (1729) by Richard Boyle (1694-1753). As the 3rd Earl of Burlington and 4th Earl of Cork, he was born into an Anglo-Irish family in Yorkshire. He was popular for introducing the Palladian style of architecture in Britain and Ireland, often also referred to as the “Architect Earl”. A photograph of Chiswick House designed by architects Richard Boyle and William Kent in 1729; Images George Rex from London, England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons When we look at the High Neoclassical architecture, which started during the 1750s, it incorporated more influence from Greek architecture, which was not as prevalent in the earlier period. This style is also just known as Neoclassical architecture. Of the countless examples of buildings in this style, common examples include the Hermitage Museum (1787) in Russia. Another famous building is the Panthéon (1758-1790) in Paris, initially, it was the Church of St. Geneviève. It was built by Jacques-Germain Soufflot (1713-1780). This building, in all its magnificence, located in the 5th arrondissement, is a true testament to the Classical ideals from Greek and Roman architecture, evident in its numerous columns and geometric proportions. The Ever Continued Neoclassical The Neoclassical style ended during the 1850s with the rise of a new movement called Romanticism, which started during the 1780s and lasted until around the 1830s. It coincided with Neoclassicism and was almost the complete opposite in style and values. Where Neoclassicism was about rationality and Classical ideals of virtue and order, Romanticism expressed emotion and the exploration of the senses. Although this was a complete shift in style, the Neoclassical movement continued and lived on in the Classical ideals that it sought to emulate. We will still notice the Neoclassical style in many types of buildings throughout Europe. It was also revived within the Beaux-Arts Architecture, which was a French and American movement during the 1830s into the 1940s. A photograph of Lille Palais des Beaux Arts designed in 1809 by Fernand Delmas and Édouard Bérard; Velvet, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons Neoclassicism was a return to the Classics – it sought to revive the ideals of the ancients, namely, order, symmetry, and rationality. It almost dutifully depicted what the Classics attained during the Greek and Roman periods and similarly strove to attain in the context of the 18th Century and its complex and often tumultuous development into the Modern era. The revival of Classical ideals within Neoclassical Art was almost a period of reminding the world again via visual communication of the beauty and structure so perfected by the ancients (whether they knew it or not) – and only we can dream of attaining that in our own Age of Enlightenment. Frequently Asked Questions What Is Neoclassicism? Neoclassicism was a revival of Classical ideals from the Greek and Roman periods. It was also a reaction towards the exuberant and often described “flamboyant” nature of the preceding movements, Baroque and Rococo. When Was the Neoclassical Period? The Neoclassical period started in Europe around the middle of the 1700s (18th Century) and continued during the 1900s (19th Century). It initially had roots in Rome but spread to many other countries, primarily France and Britain, but also Russia and Germany, among others. What are the Main Characteristics of Neoclassicism? As an opposing movement to the Baroque and Rococo, Neoclassicism reverted to Classical virtues of symmetry, proportion, clean lines, and subdued colors. The subject matter was of mythological and historical scenes with the ideals of heroism and patriotism. It was also inspired by rational thought and calmness of being. What Influenced the Neoclassical Movement? It is believed there were three primary influences on the development of Neoclassicism, namely, the seminal and revolutionary texts of historian, Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-1768), about defining the periods of Greek and Roman art and architecture. Then there were the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which introduced new artifacts and knowledge about Classical Antiquity, and lastly, the Grand Tour, which allowed many noble young men and artists to tour Europe (especially Greece and Rome) and bring back many artifacts and memorabilia, which inspired the development of the revival of Classical culture. Angelica Kauffman Was One of 18th-Century Europe’s Most Famous Portraitists, But She Was Nearly Forgotten May 6, 2020 2:46pm Angelica Kauffman, Self-Portrait with Bust of Minerva, ca. 1784. ©Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur You would not know that two of the 34 founders of the Royal Academy of Arts in London were women based on Johan Zoffany’s famed painting of its members. In The Academicians of the Royal Academy (1770–71), Zoffany depicts a vaunted studio with some 30-plus male artists who consort with two nude male models, chat with each other, and admire the artworks on view. Almost unnoticed are two portraits that hang above them and depict the artists Angelica Kauffman and Mary Moser, whose images appear as avatars, as though these painters were unworthy of joining a room bursting at its seams with men. Having been the go-to painter for the British aristocracy, Kauffman was the most famous portraitist in 18th-century Europe—male or female—and Zoffany’s scene would have been construed as an insult. And this was not the only one she was forced to weather over the course of her career, which lasted for almost half a century. She was often plagued with allegations that she had romantic liaisons with famous male artists—Nathaniel Hone once satirized her close friendship with artist Joshua Reynolds, portraying Kauffman as his plaything; the painting was rejected by the Royal Academy amid an outcry. Nevertheless, Kauffman maintained a powerful social network that included theorist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and sculptor Antonio Canova (who later oversaw aspects of her funeral in 1807), and she saw unusual market success for a female artist of her era. During her day, Kauffman, who was born in Chur, Switzerland, in 1741 and was based in London and Rome for much of her life, was considered a key artist of the Neoclassicism movement, which revived Greco-Roman artistic tropes as part of an Enlightenment-era push for rationality and reason during the 18th century. In fact, she even became so popular that her studio became a stop on the Grand Tour, a trip through Europe that was considered an educational rite of passage for upper-class men. Philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder once called Kauffman “possibly the most cultivated woman in Europe.” Yet, in the centuries since, Kauffman has generally received less attention than her male Neoclassical colleagues such as Reynolds, Canova, and Jacques-Louis David. Though art historian Linda Nochlin named Kauffman as one of the many female masters of yesteryear in her famed 1971 essay for ARTnews “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?“, her important contributions remained underrecognized. Kauffman’s paintings have never sold for more than $1 million at auction, and her art has rarely been the subject of major shows. More recently, however, that has started to change, as interest in the artist is growing once again. In 2006, art historian Amy Rosenthal published a tome about Kauffman that helped kindle curiosity, and the Kunstpalast in Dusseldorf, Germany, and the Royal Academy in London jointly organized a 100-work traveling retrospective of Kauffman that opened in Germany in January. (It was due to travel to London in June, but that is no longer the case, due to the coronavirus.) To survey Kauffman’s trailblazing art, below is a guide to five of her famous works and their backstories. Angelica Kauffman, Portrait of a Lady, ca. 1775. Tate/Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) Portrait of a Lady (ca. 1775) Kauffman’s strong reputation for creating incisive portraits helped her become one of the first female members of the Royal Academy (and one of the last ones to join for a century and a half afterward). In this portrait, which scholars initially thought was meant to represent Kauffman herself, she depicts a woman whose identity remains unknown; because of her rolled-up paper and her sculpture of the goddess Minerva, who signifies wisdom, some have suggested she may have been an intellectual. Regardless of who the subject is, historians consider the work, now owned by Tate in London, an important image attesting to the rising interest in women’s education in 18th-century England. Angelica Kauffman, Zeuxis Selecting Models for His Helen of Troy, 1780–82. Via Wikimedia Commons/LICENSED UNDER CC0 1.0 Zeuxis Selecting Models for His Helen of Troy (ca. 1780–82) During the 18th century, history paintings—large-scale canvases depicting episodes from ancient times—were considered the highest art form, and Kauffman excelled in that mode, which was then considered to be one reserved largely for men. In this one, Kauffman depicts the Greek painter Zeuxis getting ready to paint an image of Helen of Troy—without Helen sitting before him. He goes about it by cherrypicking the most perfect features of five models and combining them to create an ideal female representation. The painting, now exhibited in a library at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has provoked debate among scholars: Was Kauffman merely conforming to the gender norms of her day using hazy sfumato brushwork to sensualize and objectify these women, or is a more subversive commentary about the male gaze at play here? Angelica Kauffman, Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to her Children as Her Treasures, ca. 1785. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts/LICENSED UNDER CC0 1.0 Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, Pointing to her Children as Her Treasures (ca. 1785) Relying once again on a moment from ancient history for her subject matter, here Kauffman depicts the second-century BCE Roman woman Cornelia in a genre known as exemplum virtutis, or an “example of virtue.” Cornelia, the daughter of Scipio Africanus and the mother of the politicians Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus, was seen as the pinnacle of virtue in ancient times. Here, Kauffman explores what constitutes a treasure. For the woman at right, it’s jewelry, which she holds up to show Cornelia. For Cornelia, it’s her sons. Debates about Kauffman’s aesthetic and political conservatism have focused on this picture—Cornelia’s daughter, Sempronia, who does not exist in the original narrative portrayed here, is notably not grouped with Cornelia’s treasures, and if anything, the girl seems most interested in the sparkling jewels being displayed before her. It’s possible, however, that, in leading her away from the materialistic woman, Cornelia will move Sempronia toward virtue. The work is currently owned and displayed by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. Angelica Kauffman, Self-portrait of the Artist Hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting, 1794. ©National Trust Images Self-portrait of the Artist Hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting (1794) There was a point in Kauffman’s career when it seemed as though she was destined to become a musician. The daughter of a painter, she was educated in the arts, and she was seen early on as a musical prodigy prized for her soprano voice. Ultimately, however, she went on to become a painter, and this painting allegorizes her struggle to choose between the two professions, with the artist in the center flanked by personified figures representing music and painting. The one representing painting holds a palette in one hand and points Kauffman toward a Greco-Roman temple with the other, signifying her move toward Neoclassicism. The work now resides in the collection of the Nostell Priory in Wragby, England. An engraving of Angelica Kauffman’s Religion Attended by the Virtues (ca. 1799–1801). British Museum Religion Attended by the Virtues (ca. 1799–1801) Kauffman produced this allegorical scene for a patron in England, where her works enjoyed an unusual amount of visibility after she departed for Italy because they were reproduced in the form of prints. As it happens, however, all that currently exists of the work are engravings of it. One of the first works ever to enter the United Kingdom’s national collection, it was last seen in 1941 in Plymouth, England, where it may have been destroyed during Nazi air raids. Tate Britain in London has launched an official search for it. But the work—or, at least, its memory—endures, and experts have suggested that it was likely Kauffman’s largest work, filled with life-size figures that would have acted as a master class for her acolytes in how to paint allegories. Martin Myrone, senior curator of Tate Britain, once told the Guardian, “It was regarded as Kauffman’s last artistic triumph.” 17
Compare and contrast two works from two different movements in this module: realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, NeoClassicism or another that you are interested in. Think about these artists in relat
European and American Art in the 18th and 19th Centuries Top of Form Search for: Bottom of Form Realism Realism Realism, an artistic movement that began in France in the 1850s, rejected Romanticism, seeking instead to portray contemporary subjects and situations with truth and accuracy. Learning Objectives Summarize the key thoughts of Realism Key Takeaways Key Points Realists revolted against the exotic subject matter and exaggerated emotionalism of the Romanticism that had dominated French literature and art since the late 18th century. Realist works depicted people of all classes in ordinary life situations, which often reflected the changes brought on by the Industrial and Commercial Revolutions. Realists tended to showcase sordid or untidy elements in their paintings. Important figures in the Realist art movement were Gustave Courbet, Honore Daumier, and Jean-Francois Millet. Realism was an artistic movement that began in France in the 1850s, following the 1848 Revolution. Realists rejected Romanticism, which had dominated French literature and art since the late 18th century, revolting against the exotic subject matter and exaggerated emotionalism of the movement. Instead, Realists sought to portray “real” contemporary people and situations with truth and accuracy, including all the unpleasant or sordid aspects of life. Realist works depicted people of all classes in ordinary life situations, which often reflected the changes brought on by the Industrial and Commercial Revolutions. The Realists depicted everyday subjects and situations in contemporary settings, and attempted to depict individuals of all social classes in a similar manner. Classical idealism, Romantic emotionalism, and drama were avoided equally, and often sordid or untidy elements of subjects were showcased somewhat, as opposed to being beautified or omitted. Social realism emphasized the depiction of the working class and treated working class people with the same seriousness as other classes in art. Realism also aimed to avoid artificiality in the treatment of human relations and emotions; treatments of subjects in a heroic or sentimental manner were rejected. Important figures in the Realist art movement were Gustave Courbet, Honore Daumier, and Jean-Francois Millet. A Burial At Ornans by Gustave Courbet, 1849: Courbet is regarded as the leading proponent of the Realist movement. Realism in Painting Two important figures in the Realist movement were Gustave Courbet and Jean-Francois Millet. Learning Objectives Describe how Realist ideals manifest in Realist painting Key Takeaways Key Points Realism arose in opposition to Romanticism, which had dominated French literature and art since the late 18th century. Realist painters often depicted common laborers, and ordinary people in ordinary surroundings engaged in real activities as subjects for their works. Gustave Courbet is known as the main proponent of Realism and his paintings challenged convention by depicting unidealized peasants and workers, often on a grand scale traditionally reserved for paintings of religious or historical subjects. Jean-Francois Millet is noted for his scenes of peasant farmers of which “The Gleaners” is one of his most well-known due to its depiction of the realities of the lower class. Realism was an artistic movement that began in France in the 1850s, after the 1848 Revolution. The movement arose in opposition to Romanticism, which had dominated French literature and art since the late 18th century. Realism revolted against the exotic subject matter and exaggerated emotionalism and drama typical of the Romantic movement. In favor of depictions of real life, Realist painters often depicted common laborers, and ordinary people in ordinary surroundings engaged in real activities as subjects for their works. The chief exponents of Realism were Gustave Courbet, Jean-François Millet, Honoré Daumier, and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Gustave Courbet Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet (1819–December 31, 1877) was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th century French painting. Rejecting the predominant academic convention and the Romanticism of his time, Courbet’s independence set an example that was important to later artists, such as the Impressionists and the Cubists. As an artist, he occupies an important place in 19th century French painting as an innovator and as an artist willing to make bold social statements in his work. Courbet’s paintings of the late 1840s and early 1850s brought him his first recognition. They challenged convention by depicting unidealized peasants and workers, often on a grand scale traditionally reserved for paintings of religious or historical subjects. Courbet courted controversy by addressing social issues in his work, and by painting subjects that were considered vulgar, such as the rural bourgeoisie, peasants, and working conditions of the poor. For Courbet realism dealt not with the perfection of line and form, but entailed spontaneous and rough handling of paint, suggesting direct observation by the artist while portraying the irregularities in nature. He depicted the harshness in life, and in so doing challenged contemporary academic ideas of art. A Burial at Ornans by Gustave Courbet, 1849–50: Exhibition of this piece at the 1850–1851 Paris Salon created an “explosive reaction” and brought Courbet instant fame. A Burial at Ornans was a vast painting, measuring 10 by 22 feet (3.1 by 6.6 meters), and drew both praise and fierce denunciations from critics and the public, in part because it upset convention by depicting a prosaic ritual on a scale that previously would have been reserved for a religious or royal subject. Additionally, the painting lacks the sentimental rhetoric that was expected in a genre work. Courbet’s mourners make no theatrical gestures of grief, and their faces seemed more caricatured than ennobled. The critics accused Courbet of a deliberate pursuit of ugliness. Jean-Francois Millet Jean-François Millet (October 4, 1814–January 20, 1875) was a French painter and one of the founders of the Barbizon School in rural France. Millet is noted for his scenes of peasant farmers and can be categorized as part of the Realism art movement. Woman Baking Bread by Jean-Francois Millet, 1854: This painting depicts a woman working in the home, and is a typical representation of the Realists’ engagement with depicting the realities of life at the time. One of the most well known of Millet’s paintings is The Gleaners (1857). While Millet was walking the fields around Barbizon, one theme returned to his pencil and brush for seven years—gleaning—the centuries-old right of poor women and children to remove the bits of grain left in the fields following the harvest. He found the theme an eternal one, linked to stories from the Old Testament. In 1857, he submitted the painting The Gleaners to the Salon to an unenthusiastic, even hostile, public. Gleaners by Jean-Francois Millet, 1857: One of his most controversial, this painting by Millet depicts gleaners collecting grain in the fields near his home. The depiction of the realities of the lower class was considered shocking to the public at the time. Pre-Raphaelites The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848. Learning Objectives Evaluate the ideas that underpinned the Pre-Raphaelites and how they were manifested in their art Key Takeaways Key Points The Pre-Raphaelites sought to reform art by rejecting what they considered to be a mechanistic approach first adopted by the Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. They believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name “Pre-Raphaelite.” They wanted a return to the abundant detail, intense colors and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art. Influenced by romanticism, the Pre-Raphaelites thought freedom and responsibility were inseparable. Nevertheless, they were particularly fascinated by medieval culture, believing it to possess a spiritual and creative integrity that had been lost in later eras. In later years the movement divided and moved in two separate directions. The realists were led by Hunt and Millais, while the medievalists were led by Rossetti and his followers, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. Key Terms Mannerist: An artist who uses Mannerism, a style of European art that emerged from the later years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520. quattrocento: The 1400s, the 15th century Renaissance Italian period. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (also known as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The three founders were soon joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner to form a seven-member brotherhood. The group’s intention was to reform art by rejecting an approach that they considered mechanistic, one that was first adopted by the Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. Its members believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name “Pre-Raphaelite.” The Pre-Raphaelites wanted a return to the abundant detail, intense colors and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian and Flemish art. The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to promote their ideas. The brotherhood’s early doctrines emphasized the personal responsibility of individual artists to determine their own ideas and methods of depiction. Influenced by Romanticism, the Pre-Raphaelites thought freedom and responsibility were inseparable. Nevertheless, they were particularly fascinated by medieval culture, believing it to possess a spiritual and creative integrity that had been lost in later eras. Pre-Raphaelites and Realism The emphasis on medieval culture clashed with principles of realism, which stressed the independent observation of nature. In its early stages, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood believed its two interests were consistent with one another, but in later years the movement divided and moved in two separate directions. The realists were led by Hunt and Millais, while the medievalists were led by Rossetti and his followers, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. The split was never absolute, since both factions believed that art was essentially spiritual in character, opposing their idealism to the materialist realism associated with Courbet and impressionism. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was greatly influenced by nature and its members used great detail to show the natural world using bright and sharp focus techniques on a white canvas. In attempts to revive the brilliance of color found in Quattrocento art, Hunt and Millais developed a technique of painting in thin glazes of pigment over a wet white ground in the hope that the colors would retain jewel-like transparency and clarity. Their emphasis on brilliance of color was a reaction to the excessive use of bitumen by earlier British artists. Bitumen produces unstable areas of muddy darkness, an effect the Pre-Raphaelites despised. Ophelia: Ophelia, by John Everett Millais, reflects the Pre-Raphaelite use of brilliance of color in composition. Exhibitions The first exhibitions of Pre-Raphaelite work occurred in 1849. Both Millais’s Isabella (1848–1849) and Holman Hunt’s Rienzi (1848–1849) were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Rossetti’s Girlhood of Mary Virgin was shown at a Free Exhibition on Hyde Park Corner. As agreed, all members of the brotherhood signed their work with their name and the initials “PRB.” In 1850 the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood became the subject of controversy after the exhibition of Millais’s painting, Christ in the House of His Parents, which was considered to be blasphemous by many reviewers, notably Charles Dickens. The brotherhood’s medievalism was attacked as backward-looking and its extreme devotion to detail was condemned as ugly and jarring to the eye. According to Dickens, Millais made the Holy Family look like alcoholics and slum-dwellers, adopting contorted and absurd “medieval” poses. Christ in the House of His Parents: Pre-Raphaelite Millais’s painting, Christ in the House of His Parents, was considered to be blasphemous by many reviewers, notably Charles Dickens, who said Millais made the Holy Family look like alcoholics and slum-dwellers, adopting contorted and absurd “medieval” poses. After 1856, Dante Gabriel Rossetti became an inspiration for the medievalizing strand of the movement. He was the link between the two types of Pre-Raphaelite painting (nature and romance) after the PRB became lost in the late 1800s. Rossetti, although the least committed to the brotherhood, continued the name and changed its style. He began painting versions of women using models like Jane Morris, in paintings such as Proserpine, after the Pre-Raphaelites had disbanded. Since the Pre-Raphaelites were fixed on portraying subjects with near-photographic precision—though with a distinctive attention to detailed surface-patterns—their work was devalued by many painters and critics. For instance, after the First World War, British Modernists associated Pre-Raphaelite art with the repressive and backward times in which they grew up. The Man Who Captured Time Eadweard Muybridge revealed a new universe of motion with his camera, but history has largely obscured his extraordinary accomplishments with photography. By J. Weston Phippen Sallie Gardner at a Gallop (Eadweard Muybridge) July 24, 2016 The first humans who put paint on stone drew deer, buffalo, horses. They drew all the beasts man knew, and they painted them running. It started on a cave wall in France some 40,000 years ago with animals that seemed to move with their hindquarters planted, torsos rigid, their front legs stiff and raised ever so off the ground. These Paleolithic artists were primitive, of course, but for the thousands of years to follow, neither the ancient Greeks, nor the Japanese masters, nor the 19th-century French artist Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (regarded for his pictures of horses) could seem to understand how to draw an animal in motion. A new guide to living through climate change The Weekly Planet brings you big ideas and vital information to help you flourish on a changing planet. Top of Form Email Address (required) Bottom of Form Thanks for signing up! Especially horses. Even as humans increasingly spent their lives around horses, the greatest artistic talents of their time drew them running with all four legs splayed, as if mounted to a rocker. Man has always sought to understand the natural world—if for no other reason than to bend it to our will. But an invisible life existed in the motion of the horse, hidden from our eye, and thus from human understanding. Until the 1870s, when the man who founded Stanford University became obsessed with this mystery—so much so that he hired the photographer Eadweard Muybridge. The galloping horse became Muybridge’s greatest achievement, but it would also become as obscure as his many other accomplishments. As he neared death, it’s said Muybridge panicked over the idea he’d be forgotten. And he almost was. No major museums had staged a retrospective of his work until six years ago at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, when the curator Philip Brookman thought to put one together, partly because no one else had. Last month, the National Gallery of Art (which absorbed the Corcoran in 2014) presented Intersections, which offers another chance to consider Muybridge’s mind and his legacy, and to see the work of another 19th-century pioneer of photography, Alfred Stieglitz. In its earliest years, photography rode an unsure line between science and art. It transported facts of the world to the public. It offered pretty images. Few people knew what to do with it. But Muybridge and Stieglitz changed that. Eadweard Muybridge Stieglitz was an artist, born in Hoboken and trained in Berlin, who proved photos could tell stories and reveal the world as profoundly as paintings. Muybridge’s work, at first, concerned itself with questions of understanding––a mostly scientific pursuit. He was born to an English coal merchant, and at 20 he left for America, where he traveled west in search of success in the new country. In California he opened a bookstore, was absolved of killing a man, then busied himself with photographing the intricacies of women’s ankles crossing creeks, blacksmiths swinging hammers, with chickens fleeing torpedoes. It’s only recently, thanks in large part to the popularity of the GIF, that people can appreciate the genius of Muybridge’s work. Muybridge would take his photographic discoveries on tours across America and Europe. During his lifetime he advanced the chemicals that develop film. He quickened camera shutter speed to a fraction of a second. And by aiming dozens of lenses at the same subject, he found ways to stop time and stretch it like elastic. After seeing Muybridge’s work in London in 1882, one reporter wrote that “a new world of sights and wonders was indeed opened by photography, which was not less astounding because it was truth itself.” Muybridge labored all his life to uncover the truth of motion, but by the time he died of cancer in 1904, he saw his work diminished by the lightning pace of innovation. He’d advanced photography to the point where it could capture constant movement, and developed a machine to reanimate this motion. Rightly so, he yearned for the world to remember him as the man who made cinema possible. But when that time came, other men, younger men, would claim his legacy. It’s only recently, thanks in large part to the popularity of the GIF, that people can appreciate the genius of Muybridge’s work. * * * Leland Stanford picked up the hobby of breeding, racing, and training horses after he served as the governor of California in the 1860s, having made millions investing in the Central Pacific Railroad. His 8,000-acre stables south of San Francisco, near Palo Alto, eventually became Stanford University. Here he kept some of the fastest horses in the world. But, as a man who’d bored America’s first train through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, he figured if he could understand how horses ran, he could make them run even faster. In this quest, a question troubled Stanford: He wanted to prove that when a horse galloped, all four of its hooves left the earth, that for a moment it became airborne. That idea had countered logic, as The New York Times put it, “since the world began.” Eadweard Muybridge In 1877, at a track in San Francisco, Muybridge strung a thread across the dirt at horse-chest height. It led to a trigger attached to his camera. Stanford had funded Muybridge’s work for years, and this was their most meaningful trial yet, so when Stanford’s horse trotted down the track at 40 feet per second, Muybridge was ready with his camera. When Muybridge began his work with Stanford’s horses, photography had barely been around 50 years. The craft was so sensitive that a slight breeze on leaves in a landscape, or the shift of a neck in a portrait, could ruin a picture. A camera’s shutter speed determines how long it’s exposed to light, which means anything moving while it’s open can look blurred. Before Muybridge, photographers exposed light to the film by removing the lens cap with their hands, then jamming it back on. This is why most people in photos at the time look like zombie facsimiles of themselves, stiff with rigor mortis. But in the early 1870s, Muybridge invented mechanical shutters, a system that used a trigger and rubber springs to snap two planks shut in front of the lens at one-thousandth of a second. The photo Muybridge took was completely disappointing—to Muybridge, at least. Yes, it pictured the horse with all four hooves off the ground, which was by no means a small achievement, because no one else in history had done this. A few newspapers ran the photo. But it was a single image. In order to understand motion, Muybridge needed to separate a movement into its parts, to slice the seconds that make a moment, then splice them back together with his photos. This would take another year. He’d later say his first memory was waking up 150 miles away in Arkansas, to a doctor who told him he’d never fully recover. At this time, Muybridge had spent just a little more than a decade as a serious photographer––he hadn’t even started in the medium until he was in his mid-30s. In 1855 when he first arrived in San Francisco, Muybridge owned a bookstore. On May 15, 1860, Muybridge ran an advertisement saying he’d sold his store and planned to travel for Europe. On his way, his stagecoach crashed in northeast Texas down a mountainside into a tree, smashing the stagecoach to pieces, and hurling Muybridge and seven other passengers into the rocky hillside. One man died. Muybridge hit his head so hard that for a while he lost his senses of taste and smell. He’d later say his first memory was waking up 150 miles away in Arkansas, with a doctor over him who said he’d never fully recover. Muybridge spent about six years recuperating in England, and little is known about his time there. But after his return to the Bay Area in 1866 he quickly became a masterful photographer. He captured Yosemite National Park’s thousand-foot waterfalls and its vast granite mountains––photos that would later inspire Ansel Adams. He shot lighthouses. He photographed himself pretending to be a lumberjack, his legs spread wide as he looks up the trunk of an insurmountable redwood tree. People obsessed over landscape photos at the time. The images represented the fierceness in American spirit that had settled the frontier, but with the ease of travel brought by train seemed already to have faded. Photographers tried to bring moments of that wildness back to cities as best they could. But while shutter speed could capture stationary lakes and mountains, the passing sky overhead looked like bland white sheets. To make scenes more convincing, photographers sometimes painted or superimposed clouds into their pictures. Muybridge, instead, invented the “sky shade.” This screen shielded the sun’s light enough to capture the landscape, but still rendered the sky’s tones. Now the people in East Coast cities could look into a photo and feel as if they stood in valleys of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, or atop granite peaks. Muybridge signed these photos under the name “Helios,” the Greek personification of the sun. Eadweard Muybridge Muybridge looked like a mix of Walt Whitman and Zeus. He was tall and lean, with a long white beard, and bushy brows that shadowed his eyes and made him seem thoughtful and deviant. In six years he’d already gained some fame for his landscape photos, and in 1871, while in his 40s, he married a woman half his age named Flora Shallcross Stone. One year later, Stanford telegraphed Muybridge about an idea he had to photograph his horses, and for three years Muybridge worked on the technology to do exactly that. That work stopped in October 1874, after Muybridge found a letter his wife had written to a drama critic named Major Harry Larkyns. Muybridge found the letter in his midwife’s home. In it was a photograph of his seven-month old son, upon which his wife had written the boy’s name as “Little Harry,” which led Muybridge to believe his son was not in fact his son. “He stamped on the floor and exhibited the wildest excitement,” Muybridge’s midwife remembered after he found the letter. “He was haggard and pale and his eyes glassy … he trembled from head to foot and gasped for breath.” Muybridge caught a train that afternoon north from San Francisco to Vallejo. It was night when he knocked on Larkyns’ door. As Larkyns stepped forward, Muybridge shoved a revolver at him and said, “I have brought a message from my wife, take it.” Larkyns died from the gunshot. At trial, Muybridge pleaded insanity. Stanford hired a lawyer to defend him, and friends testified that the stagecoach crash had jarred something loose, had transformed a genial bookstore owner into an emotionally unmoored photographer. A friend and fellow photographer, William H. Rulofson, at trial said Muybridge sometimes slipped into bursts of grief or anger, and just as easily into a placid daze, “immovable as stone.” It’s hard to tell whether this personality change was real or a story conjured by a creative lawyer, but one theory about Muybridge’s injury is that it damaged his orbitofrontal cortex. If that is true, along with altering his emotions, it could explain why Muybridge became so possessed with his work. Injuries to the orbitofrontal cortex are sometimes connected to obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it was through Muybridge’s microscopic fixation on motion that his photos became art. He photographed birds flying, cats leaping, and the American bison galloping at a time when the nation had nearly hunted the animal to extinction. His obsession with all manners of motion drove him to capture women lifting bedsheets, raising cigarettes to their lips, or the quasi-absurd, like in his series Crossing brook on step-stones with fishing-pole and can. The series consists of 36 pictures taken from three angles, and it follows a woman as she raises her leg, hops onto a stone, then another, then hops off, all the while she holds a fishing pole in one hand and a can in the other, her arms bent like the wings of a bird. Artist have used this work to study motion. Edgar Degas, himself obsessed with the movement of dancers, studied photos like it. As did Marcel Duchamp, particularly in his 1912 painting, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, which became one of the most famous modernist paintings, and looks just like Muybridge’s photo series, Woman Walking Downstairs. Error! Filename not specified.Eadweard Muybridge Muybridge’s work at this time mimicked human curiosity. Machines had increasingly become part of life––trains, cars, and the factories of the Industrial Revolution––and soon people began to notice how their bodies resembled those machines. In Muybridge’s photos of the woman crossing the creek you can see her ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows, rotating along their individual joints, but also in unison as her weight shifts to contract a muscle that pulls on one tendon and relaxes another, a repeating system of pulleys. This interested the University of Philadelphia for the potential insight it offered in the fields of sports, medicine, and physiology. It was there that Muybridge created more than 20,000 photos for his first book, Animal Locomotion. The Corcoran’s curator, Brookman, called the work a “veritable atlas of imagery about movement and time.” The state charged Muybridge with murder for killing Larkyns. In closing arguments, Muybridge’s lawyer argued that “every fiber of a man’s frame impels him to instant vengeance, and he will have it, if hell yawned before him the instant afterward.” The jury of mostly old and gray men seemed to agree, and the photographer was acquitted. Muybridge and his wife divorced. She died five months later of an illness. And even though he’d given his son the middle name Helios—the same he signed his photos—he abandoned the child at an orphanage. What’s certain in the pictures is that a horse in gallop looks nothing like any artist ever imagined. In 1877, Muybridge was back working for Stanford. By now, the racetrack on Stanford’s ranch had a photo shed that housed a bank of dozens of cameras. On the other side was an angled white wall, and in between them Muybridge spread white powdered lime on the dirt so the horse would pop out as it raced toward the cameras. In June 1878, Muybridge greeted reporters and told them to prepare for, as one writer would recall, a photographic feat that marked “an era in art.” A series of wires ran from the angled wall every 21 inches to the shed where they pulled triggers connected to an electrical circuit. This was the complex technology Muybridge had worked with Stanford’s engineers to develop––unimaginable just five years before. When the horse ran down the track it would trip the wires, pull the trigger that closed the electrical circuit, and release rubber springs loaded at 100 pounds of pressure that snapped the shutters closed at one-thousandth of a second. The reporters at the racetrack that day waited. Then Stanford’s horse galloped down the track, tripping the cameras lines, one after another. Muybridge developed the film in front of reporters so there’d be no doubt he’d taken them that day. In one photo series from these experiments, called Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, all four hooves of the horse clearly leave the ground in the first four of 16 photos. What’s certain in the pictures is that a horse in gallop looks nothing like any artist ever imagined. Stanford would later meet with the French artist Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier––so famous at the time that The New York Times referred to him simply as, “the great artist Meissonier”––and asked him to draw a horse, then to draw that same horse in stride a foot later. Dumfounded, Meissonier said, “I can’t do it.” “And yet Meissonier many years ago drew the picture of a horse that would have irretrievably damned any other artist than himself,” the Times wrote. Another reporter called Muybridge’s accomplishments with camera technology as important as the phonograph and the telephone. But Muybridge’s legacy today is not what he wanted. Beginning with his first single-frame photographs of galloping horses, Muybridge had worked toward recording sequences of movement using dozens of cameras as a way to pause and reanimate motion. Now, we’d call that film. One year after the reporters watched the horse snap the camera lines on Stanford’s ranch, Muybridge developed the zoopraxiscope, the precursor to cinema. Eadweard Muybridge The machine used a glass disc spun around a projection lantern, and when Muybridge showed his photos of horses to people in 1880 at an exhibit in San Francisco, one reporter wrote that “nothing was wanting but the clatter of the hoofs upon the turf and an occasional breath of steam from the nostrils.” The animated images lasted only a few seconds, and looked uncannily like a GIF. It’s nearly impossibly to view Muybridge’s work through a zoopraxiscope today, but since many of his photos have been turned into GIFs we can again see Muybridge’s art as he did. In his photo grids an action begins and ends. But in constant, repeated motion, the action spills into a circle of infinite movement, as if the two naked blacksmiths will pound that anvil forever, or the couple will waltz together long past midnight. There’s something mesmerizing and voyeuristic about Muybridge’s photos as GIFs, because it reveals the world as we see it in passing, but not as we understand its parts. And that is what Muybridge tried to do all his life. So it’s today that Muybridge has come perhaps the closest to being remembered as he wanted to be remembered—as the creator of early cinema. At the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Muybridge planned to give 300 lectures in his Zoopraxigraphical Hall, discussing his life’s work. The fair featured other inventions like the debut of the original Ferris Wheel, and the inventions of Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, who were both locked in their own war to be immortalized. Muybridge’s exhibit was a complete flop. Other minds had advanced upon his zoopraxiscope, and in two years an audience in France would watch a 46-second projection shot by the Lumière brothers of women leaving a factory. It was the first public screening of cinema. It had been just 18 years since Muybridge’s horse experiments, and already his work was something to be displayed in museums. A small stone in a path toward something greater. That he is largely remembered for his work capturing the motion of horses is somewhat tragic. He had pushed photography to its uttermost limit, willed it to do what he wished, until it became something entirely new. But for some 40,000 years, man had tried to understand the unseeable motion in those four legs of the horse. Da Vinci, Meissonier, everyone had failed. Then came Muybridge with his cameras. Suddenly the horse’s back legs swing up in neat lines at the joints, the front legs reach forward, then curl inward and upward to the belly, first the left, then the right. And for a moment, thanks to Muybridge, the horse is airborne. J. Weston Phippen is a writer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Realism in theatre 27 November 2013 Late 19th Century Theatre: Realism and Naturalism II: America and England Realism and Naturalism in America Writer/performer/manager Dion Boucicault (1822-1890) wrote increasingly realistic melodramas, including The Poor of New York, an outright steal of The Poor of Paris, but set firmly in America, framed by the financial panics of 1837 and 1857. The Octoroon; or, Life in Louisiana is about a woman white enough to “pass” but who is discovered to be black and suffers the consequences. Boucicault was so popular a writer that he could and did demand royalties, which have become a playwright’s bread and butter (well, before they could sell the movie rights!). Before Boucicault’s lobbying for royalties and living wages for writers, a very popular nautical melodrama, Jerrold’s Black-Eyed Susan, earned its author a paltry 70 pounds. Boucicault earned over 500,000 pounds on the royalties for only one of his plays. Rigorous international copyright laws did not go into effect until just after the turn of the 20th century, but Boucicault really paved the way in securing rights and money for writers. Boucicault is also usually credited with responsibility for the long run as the usual way to do theatre in the States. Because his plays were SO popular, they no longer had to be run in rotating rep with other plays. His plays could run on their own for weeks, months, years. Uncle Tom’s Cabin predates Boucicault’s plays in this, but it was the exception, not the rule. After the Civil War in America, then, more and more often single plays began to be run in New York City, the center of theatrical activity, and then tour the country, not via troupes of traveling players who would incorporate it into their rotating rep, but lock stock and barrel, in what was known as a combination company – one that takes everything needed (actors, sets and costumes, technicians) to do a single play. The rapidly constructed new railroads which began to criss-cross the US in the 1860s and 70s allowed for this new way of doing theatre: run a play in NYC as long as financially feasible, then send it out on national tours. So this collusion of very successful single plays (it’s much easier and cheaper to tour a single play rather than a repertoire of plays) and the extraordinary transportation revolution created by the proliferation of railroads was a major factor in changing the way theatre was delivered. To give you some sense of the scope of this, by the theatrical season of 1876-77 there were nearly 100 touring companies on the (rail)road. By 1886-87 the number of touring companies in the US had nearly tripled, to 282! One of the earliest of these “long run” plays was the Hamlet of Edwin Booth (1833-1893), which ran for 100 nights. Although his brother John Wilkes nearly killed his brother’s career the night he assassinated Lincoln, Edwin went into seclusion but re-emerged in less than a year and rapidly became the greatest actor-manager in American theatre in the latter half of the 19th century. The 100-Nights Hamlet really launched Booth’s career. As an actor Booth believed that the theatre artists should perform only the finest drama, and that it was the actor’s job to bring out the beauty and wisdom in the play. In Edwin Booth, then, we see one of the first (and nearly ONLY) argument for an “art” theatre in America. Booth also ventured into new experiments with stage architecture. In his own theatre, called Booth’s and opened in 1869, Booth got rid of the raked stage and introduced “free plantation” style sets. These consisted of large set pieces and flats not dependent on painted side wings, but “planted” in different parts of the stage. These set pieces could be flown from above or raised from below on the elevators he installed. The free plantation system created a more realistic look on stage, and Booth often used box sets in his plays for still greater scenic realism. Edwin Booth was certainly the most important American actor-manager at this time, but another is worth mentioning, because in what was almost exclusively a man’s domain, Laura Keene (1820-1893) was, obviously, a woman! Keene battled from the 1850s to the 1870s, to secure her own theatre in competition with several males, most of whom wanted to destroy her merely because she was a woman. She became tremendously popular in spite of all sorts of hardships. Keene used to be known only as the star of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre the night Lincoln was shot, but more recently, Keene has become a landmark example of American women actor managers — she was hardly the only one, and not the first, but one of the most important. Two men deserve attention at this time because they ran theatres, directed actors, and wrote plays but did NOT star in them. In breaking from the actor/manager tradition, Augustin Daly and David Belasco became two of the earliest professional directors in American (or any other) theatre. Augustin Daly (1836-1899) was quite a hustler. He wrote drama criticism under assumed names for 5 different newspapers in NYC. While it was not unusual to write under a nom de plume, it was unusual to write for so many papers, and to critique plays while producing your own plays. A Daly play opens, and 5 papers automatically love it! This interesting take on self promotion didn’t last for long, and much more importantly, Daly was a major contributor to stage realism, not in his stories, which were totally melodramatic. It was Daly’s idea, for example, to tie a person to a railroad track to gain suspense in a play called Under the Gaslight. But he was realistic in his staging techniques. In his production of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, for example, Daly’s scene painters reproduced precise renderings of famous sites in the title Hisstorical accuracy at the expense of the play? city. In his Midsummer Night’s Dream, fifth century BC Athens was re-created as closely as possible on the stage. Daly was also crucial in the development of the professional director in that he insisted upon absolute control over all elements of production. He wooed the best actors in America to his company, including Clara Morris, who, because she was so fine at pathetic suffering, was known as the “queen of spasms” and John Drew II, a fine leading man, and one of the earliest of the line which became the Barrymore family. Drew played leading roles opposite Ada Rehan, as Petruchio to her Kate for example. Rehan became Daly’s favorite — in fact she became his mistress! And while Daly otherwise insisted on the importance of ensemble playing, he made Ada Rehan a star. If Daly was known for realistic staging, David Belasco (1854-1931) became famous for stage naturalism. At the same time that Andre Antoine was directing naturalist drama on stage in Paris, Belasco was doing it in New York. Belasco wrote many of the plays he produced, including Heart of Maryland (1895) in which a daughter saves her father from execution by hanging on the clapper of the bell that is to ring in the hour of his death. You’ve heard of “cliff-hangers..Maryland is the first (and I hope only) bell-hanger! Two other of his plays, Madame Butterfly (1900) and Girl of the Golden West (1905), were operatized by Puccini and are much better known as operas – melodramatic? Nooooo! But Belasco is best remembered for his staging. When he directed Eugene Walters’ grittily naturalistic The Easiest Way (1909), Belasco, he needed a cheap boardinghouse room for his main character (a prostitute who could have broken away from her awful existence by marrying a reporter who loved her, but who instead took the “easiest way” and remained in her trade), so he merely bought an entire boardinghouse in the infamous “tenderloin” district of Manhattan and put what he needed of it on the stage. In the Governor’s Lady there was a scene set in a restaurant. Belasco bought one of the Child’s chain of restaurants and simply placed it on the stage! Belasco was also a flamboyant producer and star-maker, one of the great early American directors. Another early director was Steele MacKaye (1842-1894), also an actor, playwright, & inventor. MacKaye brought Delsarte’s system of performance training to America and started one of the earliest acting schools in the U.S., which would later become the American Academy of Dramatic Art. He wrote very realistic melodramas, including Marriage (1869) and Hazel Kirke (1878). The realism in these plays was more in the staging than in the story. MacKaye was an idealist, and started several theatres. Along with Booth, MacKaye was one of the few who advocated for art in the nineteenth century American theatre, where the dollar was almighty. Unfortunately, MacKaye’s idealism lost him lots of money, but this did not stop him from experimenting and inventing. He came up with an early form of air conditioning a theatre auditorium (huge blocks of ice placed just out of sight, blown by large fans to cool a theatre on a hot summer’s night). He used huge elevators for quicker set changes. It was usual at the time to listen to music during set changes, with hammers banging in the background, for 5-10 minutes between scenes. MacKaye’s elevator system cut the time it took to change even complicated scenes to 40 seconds. MacKaye was also one of the first directors to see the potential of and to use electric light in the theatre. It is at this time that America’s unique gift to world theatre, the musical, was born. In 1866 a melodrama was in its final stages of rehearsal, but James Niblo, manager of Niblo’s Garden’s Theatre, saw that it was in major trouble. It was missing…something! Meanwhile, nearby in Manhattan, another theatre has burned down, leaving a troupe of French female dancers nowhere to play. The answer? Niblo decided to combine forces with the dance troupe, and accidentally created what is usually called the first American musical, The Black Crook. Granted, most melodramas made use of music, but this was something else, and the formula Niblo stumbled on out of necessity created a sensation. Niblo had great settings (the play was a fantasy, in which a magician is constantly transforming things, making use of lots of sets and set changes) and a pretty crummy story. But when the dancing girls arrived, he realized he didn’t really NEED a story. He had a chorus line of lovely legs! This combination of spectacle and cheesecake proved a huge success. The Black Crook was a hit! The next year another foreign troupe, Lydia Bailey and her British Blondes, took New York by storm in a similar manner. After these two experiments, in 1874 Evangeline hit the stage. Based VERY loosely upon a Longfellow poem, this Evangeline? show featured scantily clad dancers, a whale and a dancing heifer (two men in a cow-costume), along with songs such as “In Love with the Man in the Moon.” Despite the critics, one of whom wrote of it: “Several scenes are so stupid, that it is difficult to contemplate them without going to sleep,” Evangeline became hugely popular and others like it began to be written. Audiences began to get a steady stream of these new musical entertainments, and little changed in the format of the American musical until December 1927…but more of that later! The heifer dance from Evangeline Quick sidebar: for a great description of Evangeline have a look at this website from the New York Public Library: http://www.nypl.org/blog/2012/11/30/musical-month-evangeline Burlesque star Eva Tanguay If you move towards scantily clad women and away from a well-plotted play, you get burlesque American style — a collection of variety acts and musical numbers in which women “take off”, not in the sense of mocking other forms, but in the sense of their clothes! Tony Pastor cleaned up the burlesque around the turn of the century, made it suitable for the entire family, usually, and called it vaudeville, which was a hugely successful form until the talking pictures began stealing its audiences away. There were many famous actors working in the U.S. at this time, and several of them I’ve already mentioned. Let’s look quickly at three more: William Gillette was a major star in the 1890s, and wrote plays as vehicles for himself, including Secret Service (1892) and Sherlock Holmes (1895). He was a highly realistic actor. It was Gillette who first said that every night an actor plays, s/he should attempt to present “the illusion of the first time.” James O’Neill was an actor who had played Othello to Edwin Booth’s Iago, but then got sucked into a play version of The Count of Monte Cristo, which he toured everywhere, which he made tons of money from, and which nearly destroyed his family…read his son’ Eugene’s play on the subject, Long Day’s Journey into Night. Finally, Richard Mansfield, star of melodrama (Beau Brummel), dabbler in Shakespearean roles (Richard III probably best among them), introducer of Shaw to America (Arms and the Man, Devil’s Disciple) — he toured England and flopped there, but was probably the most popular actor in America in the 1890s. The man he tried to emulate was the most famous actor in England at the time — Henry Irving. And this brings us briefly to England. Quick Look at Late Nineteenth Century British Theatre Henry Irving was the undisputed star of the London stage at the end of the century. In fact British theatre at the end of the century has been referred to as the age of Irving – this means that not only was he the greatest actor of his age, but also that he typifies the period. Irving began his career in 1871 as a player of leading roles at the Lyceum, a theatre he remained associated with all his life. In 1878, Irving took over management of the Lyceum, where he strove for pictorial realism. As Booth had done in America, Irving ripped out the wings and grooves on the stage, replaced the raked floor with a flat floor — the stage was equipped with flies that sent scenery in from above and elevators that lifted it from below, all in the service of free plantation of the scenery. Irving’s repertoire featured a traditional mix of Shakespeare and melodrama, but he used modern staging methods to produce the plays. Irving was knighted in 1895, the first actor in England to be knighted, and as important as it was for Irving, it also marked a new respect for at least some actors in England. Irving’s leading lady, and surely the most popular actress in London during the late 19th century, was Ellen Terry. She came from a theatrical family; her sister Kate, for example, also had a fine career, her son was Gordon Craig, about whom we’ll speak next week, and her grandson was John Gielgud! Terry excelled at Shakespearean comedy, particularly in the roles of Beatrice, Viola, and Portia; but she was also quite fine in serious roles, such as Lady Macbeth. She was made the first Dame (which is somewhat equivalent to knighthood for women), shortly after Irving was knighted. A rather unique contribution to musical theatre was created in late nineteenth century London by William Gilbert (1836-1911) and Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900), who wrote a series of satirical comic operettas for the Savoy Theatre between the mid-1870s and the mid-1890s. The operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, which include HMS Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), and The Mikado (1885), remain staples of that genre today and are still frequently performed. At the turn of the century, actor/manager Herbert Beerbohm-Tree (1853-1917) was one of the most important performers and also one the last of the great actor/managers. Beerbohm-Tree offered audiences Shakespeare the old fashioned way, and played many of the Bard’s great comic as well as serious roles. His production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream featured live rabbits in a super-realistic forest. The star’s greatest success came in 1916 when he offered a London public in dire need of escape from the ugly fact of the First World War a musical extravaganza called Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, which ran for 2,000 performances, the longest running show to that date in London. Beerbohm-Tree also originated the role of Henry Higgins for George Bernard Shaw in Pygmalion. This places him at a strategic moment while extravaganzas were popular, but while other new theatrical styles were ushering in the modern era. In terms of theatre spaces in Europe, England and the U.S., towards the end of the century as realism became more and more THE trend, theatres in England became more and more complicated backstage and became somewhat more intimate. Mainstream theatres built at the end of the 19th century began to abandon the pit, box, and gallery system for the orchestra (or stalls, or parterre) and balcony system we’re used to today on Broadway. In fact the first theatres built around 42nd Street in NYC were built at the turn of the century. The usual seating capacity went down from 2,000-3,000 seats to 1000-1500 seats. For example, the New Amsterdam, built in the early years of the 20th century, seats a bit over 1700. In recent lectures I’ve simplified a highly complex time period. Mainstream theatre featured realistic dramas, but various anti-realistic theatrical movements were growing as well. It gets more complicated as we move forward, but in order to do that will now move back a bit in time, to writers, directors, designers, who began to experiment with form that we have labeled the “modern.”
Compare and contrast two works from two different movements in this module: realism, Romanticism, Impressionism, NeoClassicism or another that you are interested in. Think about these artists in relat
Modern humanities unit three Romanticism Realism Impressionism Post Impressionism Symbolism MUSIC:Vladimir Asjhkenazy chopin 24 preludes Watch this interesting video!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjQQfsp8hsE Watch the performance of all 24 preludes by chopin in youtube. This probably gives you some insight into what nineteenth century audiences liked about romantic style. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjQQfsp8hsE impressionism film Art: The Case for Impressionism: pbs Watch this exiting video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tw51Eh9vcw Explainer: how Romanticism rebelled against cold-hearted rationality Published: July 25, 2018 4.09pm EDT Author matthew Ryan Lecturer in Literature, Australian Catholic University Disclosure statement Matthew Ryan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Romanticism is often fixed within a period running from the late-18th to early-19th century. But Romanticism as a cultural movement and as a set of ideas influencing visual art, literature, philosophy and politics, bleeds out beyond these designated boundaries. Indeed, its influence continues in the 21st century. When we think about the qualities of imagination, the natural world or the composition of the self, we usually call upon an idea or two from what has come to be known as Romanticism. In 21st-century culture, Romantic ideas usually appear when the human and the natural worlds are brought together. For example, the novels of Peter Carey or Tim Winton sometimes set up a type of metaphysical resonance between landscape and the formation (or dissipation) of the self. Or, we see a fantasy of our integration with nature (tinged with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “nascent humanity”) in James Cameron’s film Avatar. Even the feedback loop of depression and apocalypse that appears in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, owes something to Romanticism. Read news coverage based on evidence, not tweets The term “Romanticism” derives from the attraction of some 18th-century German and English thinkers to the culture of the Middle Ages. “Romance” – such as that exhibited in the 13th-century French stories of King Arthur- provided a model of imaginative non-realism, intensity of feeling and decisiveness of action that appealed to young artistic rebels. The Middle Ages also offered an imagined community of integrated harmony that contrasted with the transformations and tumult of late 18th-century Europe. Often, Romanticism is seen as a counterpoint to the Enlightenment. In 1784, Immanuel Kant suggested a slogan for the Enlightenment: “Have courage to use your own understanding!” This prompted the question: what is the nature of that understanding? Wikimedia Commons The modern world can still be understood as swinging between, on one side, the cool work of quantification and observation in scientific rationality and, on the other, a desire for the heat of life lived with intensity, in the experience of emotion or of the ineffable. These latter qualities we find in imaginative and freedom-loving Romanticism, which made a home for itself in English poetry. Poets such as Charlotte Smith, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Clare presented artistic critiques of what they saw as the exploitative and cold-hearted rationality of their times. These English poets found a refuge for their idea of free and creative humanity in nature and the imagination. Blake achieved this with his religiously inspired poetic transformations of London. Blake imagines indentured child chimney sweeps set free by angels, even as he sees everywhere the “mind-forg’d manacles” of poverty and exploitation. Blake skewers the wretched present and envisages a transcendent future through poetic imagination. Beatrice Addressing Dante by William Blake. William Blake/Wikimedia Commons The Romantic sublime Where Blake set out an idiosyncratic and radical religious revision, Wordsworth established a poetic interaction between imagination and nature in his landmark 1798 collection with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads. In his poem Tintern Abbey, Wordsworth outlines the idea of the sublime that would come to characterise the Romantic relationship between humanity and nature. Wordsworth encounters nature but in it hears the “sad music of humanity”: And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime Of something far more deeply interfused, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man The Romantic sublime here casts nature as a stern teacher ready to impart wisdom if only humanity could be still and listen carefully. Edmund Burke went a little further with his theory of the sublime, in which the teacher is more like a crazed god who might overwhelm and annihilate us. Surviving the encounter, however, we are endowed with wonder and insight. The Romantic sublime in Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey casts nature as as a stern teacher ready to impart wisdom if only humanity could be still and listen carefully. shutterstock Wordsworth explained this control of the sublime experience in his poetic method. In his 1800 preface to Lyrical Ballads he describes the process of recreating the experience of nature and transforming it into poetry: … poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origins from emotion recollected in tranquillity: the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. Wordsworth argues that it takes a special kind of “mind” to recall the intensity of emotion that accompanies an encounter with a mountain or the roiling sea. As Shelley would reiterate later, the Romantic poet is cast as an almost priestly figure, mediating between humanity and nature through “his” capacious imagination. An 1842 portrait of Wordsworth by Benjamin Robert Haydon. Wikimedia Commons But, of course, these “unacknowledged legislators” of human nature were not all men and not all so ready to present their special sensibilities. Charlotte Smith was an early Romantic poet who influenced Wordsworth. Smith’s melancholy nature poems present a less heroic vision of poetic imagination and the self. Her sonnet, To Night, includes a literary device that subsequent Romantic writers tended to neglect: irony. Wordsworth and Shelley claim to access the transcendental voice of nature without conceding that they may, in fact, merely be hearing their own echo. Smith, on the other hand, acknowledges the vanity of communing with “the deaf cold elements”. It doesn’t stop her from anthropomorphising nature in its “sullen surges” and “viewless wind”. But she, at least, recognises the game she is playing. Smith knows the human world is cruel and that nature can provide consolation, even when we admit it is actually indifferent to our suffering. In a way that Kant might not have anticipated, Smith presents a Romantic kind of enlightenment – a courage to use one’s own understanding of sorrow. She addresses “Night” with some of the saddest and bravest lines in English poetry: I still enjoy thee — cheerless as thou art; For in thy quiet gloom the exhausted heart Is calm, tho’ wretched; hopeless, yet resign’d. This Romantic voice takes responsibility for itself by artfully imagining nature as a cool but consoling companion, rather than a distant sage or annihilating god. It is a knowing projection of our capacity for calm, set against a frantic and unjust world. Nineteenth-Century French Realism Ross FinocchioDepartment of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art October 2004 The Realist movement in French art flourished from about 1840 until the late nineteenth century, and sought to convey a truthful and objective vision of contemporary life. Realism emerged in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1848 that overturned the monarchy of Louis-Philippe and developed during the period of the Second Empire under Napoleon III. As French society fought for democratic reform, the Realists democratized art by depicting modern subjects drawn from the everyday lives of the working class. Rejecting the idealized classicism of academic art and the exotic themes of Romanticism, Realism was based on direct observation of the modern world. In keeping with Gustave Courbet’s statement in 1861 that “painting is an essentially concrete art and can only consist in the representation of real and existing things,” Realists recorded in often gritty detail the present-day existence of humble people, paralleling related trends in the naturalist literature of Émile Zola, Honoré de Balzac, and Gustave Flaubert. The elevation of the working class into the realms of high art and literature coincided with Pierre Proudhon’s socialist philosophies and Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, published in 1848, which urged a proletarian uprising. Courbet (1819–1877) established himself as the leading proponent of Realism by challenging the primacy of history painting, long favored at the official Salons and the École des Beaux-Arts, the state-sponsored art academy. The groundbreaking works that Courbet exhibited at the Paris Salons of 1849 and 1850–51—notably A Burial at Ornans (Musée d’Orsay, Paris) and The Stonebreakers (destroyed)—portrayed ordinary people from the artist’s native region on the monumental scale formerly reserved for the elevating themes of history painting. At the time, Courbet’s choice of contemporary subject matter and his flouting of artistic convention was interpreted by some as an anti-authoritarian political threat. Proudhon, in fact, read The Stonebreakers as an “irony directed against our industrialized civilization … which is incapable of freeing man from the heaviest, most difficult, most unpleasant tasks, the eternal lot of the poor.” To achieve an honest and straightforward depiction of rural life, Courbet eschewed the idealized academic technique and employed a deliberately simple style, rooted in popular imagery, which seemed crude to many critics of the day. His Young Ladies of the Village (40.175), exhibited at the Salon of 1852, violates conventional rules of scale and perspective and challenges traditional class distinctions by underlining the close connections between the young women (the artist’s sisters), who represent the emerging rural middle class, and the poor cowherd who accepts their charity. When two of Courbet’s major works (A Burial at Ornans and The Painter’s Studio) were rejected by the jury of the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, he withdrew his eleven accepted submissions and displayed his paintings privately in his Pavillon du Réalisme, not far from the official international exhibition. For the introduction to the catalogue of this independent, one-man show, Courbet wrote a Realist manifesto, echoing the tone of the period’s political manifestos, in which he asserts his goal as an artist “to translate the customs, the ideas, the appearance of my epoch according to my own estimation.” In his autobiographical Painter’s Studio (Musée d’Orsay), Courbet is surrounded by groups of his friends, patrons, and even his models, documenting his artistic and political experiences since the Revolution of 1848. During the same period, Jean-François Millet (1814–1875) executed scenes of rural life that monumentalize peasants at work, such as Sheep Shearing Beneath a Tree (40.12.3). While a large portion of the French population was migrating from rural areas to the industrialized cities, Millet left Paris in 1849 and settled in Barbizon, where he lived the rest of his life, close to the rustic subjects he painted throughout his career. The Gleaners (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), exhibited at the Salon of 1857, created a scandal because of its honest depiction of rural poverty. The bent postures of Millet’s gleaners, as well as his heavy application of paint, emphasize the physical hardship of their task. Like Courbet’s portrayal of stonebreakers, Millet’s choice of subject was considered politically subversive, even though his style was more conservative than that of Courbet, reflecting his academic training. Millet endows his subjects with a sculptural presence that recalls the art of Michelangelo and Nicolas Poussin, as seen in his Woman with a Rake (38.75). His tendency to generalize his figures gives many of his works a sentimental quality that distinguishes them from Courbet’s unidealized paintings. Vincent van Gogh greatly admired Millet and made copies of his compositions, including First Steps, after Millet (64.165.2). The socially conscious art of Honoré Daumier (1808–1879) offers an urban counterpart to that of Millet. Daumier highlighted socioeconomic distinctions in the newly modernized urban environment in a group of paintings executed around 1864 that illustrate the experience of modern rail travel in first-, second-, and third-class train compartments. In The First-Class Carriage (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore), there is almost no physical or psychological contact among the four well-dressed figures, whereas The Third-Class Carriage (29.100.129) is tightly packed with an anonymous crowd of working-class men and women. In the foreground, Daumier isolates three generations of an apparently fatherless family, conveying the hardship of their daily existence through the weary poses of the young mother and sleeping boy. Though clearly of humble means, their postures, clothing, and facial features are rendered in as much detail as those of the first-class travelers. Best known as a lithographer, Daumier produced thousands of graphic works for journals such as La Caricature and Le Charivari, satirizing government officials and the manners of the bourgeoisie. As early as 1832, Daumier was imprisoned for an image of Louis-Philippe as Rabelais’ Gargantua, seated on a commode and expelling public honors to his supporters. Daumier parodied the king again in 1834 with his caricature The Past, the Present, and the Future (41.16.1), in which the increasingly sour expressions on the three faces of Louis-Philippe suggest the failures of his regime. In the same year, Daumier published Rue Transnonain, April 15, 1834, in the journal Association Mensuelle (20.23). Though Daumier did not witness the event portrayed—the violent suppression of a workers’ demonstration—the work is unsparing in its grim depiction of death and government brutality; Louis-Philippe ordered the destruction of all circulating prints immediately after its publication. As a result of Courbet’s political activism during the Paris Commune of 1871, he too was jailed. Incarcerated at Versailles before serving a six-month prison sentence for participation in the destruction of the Vendôme Column, Courbet documented his observations of the conditions under which children were held in his drawing Young Communards in Prison (1999.251), published in the magazine L’Autograph, one of a small number of works inspired by his experiences following the fall of the Commune. Like Millet, Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899) favored rural imagery and developed an idealizing style derived from the art of the past. Similar in scale to Courbet’s works of the same period, Bonheur’s imposing Horse Fair (87.25), shown at the Salon of 1853, is the product of extensive preparatory drawings and the artist’s scientific study of animal anatomy; her style also reflects the influence of such Romantic painters as Delacroix and Gericault and the classical equine sculpture from the Parthenon. Édouard Manet and the Impressionists were the immediate heirs to the Realist legacy, as they too embraced the imagery of modern life. By the 1870s and 1880s, however, their art no longer carried the political charge of Realism. Citation Finocchio, Ross. “Nineteenth-Century French Realism.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/rlsm/hd_rlsm.htm (October 2004) Further Reading Nochlin, Linda. Realism. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971. Nochlin, Linda. Realism and Tradition in Art, 1848–1900: Sources and Documents. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966. Tinterow, Gary. Introduction to Modern Europe / The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. See on MetPublications Impressionism: The Movement That Went Against The French Art Academy Claude Monet, Impression, Sunrise. Photo courtesy of Musée Marmottan Impressionism definition: what is Impressionism? By definition, Impressionism is a 19th-century avant-garde art movement that originated in France as a reaction against the established art of the French Academy and the government-sponsored annual exhibitions (Salons). The aim was to accurately portray visual impressions by painting scenes and subjects on the spot, using visible brushstrokes to record the changing qualities of light and movement. Today one of the most universally beloved art movements, selling for some of the highest prices, Impressionism was considered controversial and boundary-breaking in its time and artists like Monet, Degas and Renoir were shunned by the art establishment, causing quite a stir with their radical new style of painting. Key dates: 1867-1886Key regions: France, and later England.Key words: anti-academy, painting en plein air, nature scenes, urban everyday lifeKey artists: Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley The origins of Impressionism Following the example of the ground-breaking 1863 Salon des Refusés, in the spring of 1874 a group of unacknowledged French painters, who at the time called themselves Le Societé Anonyme des Artistes and organised exhibitions that were not controlled by the reigning Paris Salon, organised an exhibition in the former studio space of one of their friends, the notorious photographer Nadar. The exhibition included works by Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and Berthe Morisot. Approximately 200 works were exhibited, and seen by about 4000 people. As the well-known story goes, art critic Louis Leroy gave a seething review of the exhibition, mockingly naming the group Impressionists, after Monet’s painting Impression: Sunrise which was particularly ridiculed by critics. “Impression—I was certain of it. I was just telling myself that, since I was impressed, there had to be some impression in it … and what freedom, what ease of workmanship! Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape,” were the mocking words of Leroy. The artists, however, co-opted the term and were from then on to be known as the Impressionists. The exhibition made history. This was the first time that Paris had witnessed a large-scale independent exhibition of avant-garde art, a direct challenge to the salon, the academic tradition’s historical subject matter and methods, and the official art world. Claude Monet, Water Lilies Green Reflection. Photo courtesy of Musée de l’Orangerie Key ideas behind Impressionism The greatest difference between the style and method of the Impressionists compared to the art of the established Académie des Beaux-Arts was that these artists moved away from completely realistic depictions of historical subject matter. They were interested in nature and landscape scenes (one can think of Monet’s harbor views, seascapes and garden impressions), as well as urban everyday life scenes (think of Degas entering dance halls, opera houses and ballet classes to paint these everyday subjects then and there, or Renoir’s keen eye for Parisian leisure-seekers). Preferring to work en plein air (in the open air) or on the spot, rather than in the studio, Impressionists found that they could better capture the fickle, ever-changing effects of sunlight, the transient effects of light and colour, and the essence of their subject matter, by painting quickly, with their subjects right in front of them. Their brushwork became rapid, more broken up into separate strokes and dabs so as to capture the fleeting quality of light. Edgar Degas, The Dance Class. Photo courtesy of the Met Museum Pierre Auguste Renoir, Dance at Bougival. Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts Boston Famous Impressionists Claude Monet (1840–1926) Monet is arguably the most famous of the Impressionists as well as the only one who continued to fervently paint nature scenes throughout his life. Monet’s early period also included many scenes from everyday modern life, but his main passion was depicting his radical, passionate view of nature. One could say this culminated in his most famous and beloved series, the Water Lilies. In 1893, Monet bought a strip of marshland across the road from his house in Giverny, where he cultivated a water lily garden. For the last 20 years of his life, this is where he pioneered a new type of spatiality in painting with that open composition in his paintings of his water lilies and Japanese bridge. Monet’s large Water Lily cycle was offered to the French state by Monet himself as a symbol for peace after the armistice in 1918, and were hung in the Orangerie Museum in 1927, a few months after his death. André Masson described this as the “Sixtine of Impressionism”, referring to the Sistine Chapel. Besides the seminal Impression, Sunrise and the iconic Water Lilies, the artist’s mastrepieces include Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1865–1866); Coquelicots, La promenade (Poppies), 1873; Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son, 1875; and Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877. Claude Monet, Coquelicots, La promenade (Poppies), 1873, Musée d’Orsay, Paris Edgar Degas (1834–1917) Although he refused to qualify as an impressionist artist – preferring to call himself a ‘Realist’ or ‘Independent’ instead, Edgar Degas was one of the most emblematic artists of the Impressionist movement in France, only distinguished from other members from by his favour for inside settings illuminated by artificial light over plein-air landscapes. Born in Paris in 1834, he studied under Louis Lamothe – a former pupil of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres – at the École des Beaux-Arts and his earlier paintings feature academic subjects and styles. It was only in 1865 that he changed course focusing his attention on scenes of modern life: from bustling cafès and theatres to horse racing and, most importantly, his iconic ballet dancers. Devoted to the study and realistic representation of movement, he found in dancers the ideal subject, eventually producing around 1,500 works in different media on the subject. Edgar Degas, At the Races, 1877–1880, oil on canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris Camille Pissarro (1830–1903) Often regarded as the “father of Impressionism,” Camille Pissarro was the only artist, along with Edgar Degas, to take part in all eight of the Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886.He is known for his revelatory en-plein-airs depicting landscapes and urban French life, as he shared with the other Impressionists the desire to record the modern world by capturing the transient effects of light and colour with a specific focus on textures and chromatic values.Although in his later life, his friends Paul Signac and Georges Seurat encouraged him to explore the techniques of Pointillism and Neo-Impressionism, after a time, he went back to working in the Impressionist style.One of the movement’s most important core members, Pissarro held the group together encouraging and supporting other members, to the extent that art historian John Rewald called Pissarro the “dean of the Impressionist painters”, not only because he was the oldest of the group, but also “by virtue of his wisdom and his balanced, kind, and warmhearted personality.”Among his most famous works stand out Two Women Chatting by the Sea, St. Thomas (1856); Road to Versailles at Louveciennes (1869); The Boulevard Montmartre at Night (1897); and The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning (1897). Camille Pissarro, The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, 1897, National Gallery, London. Reception and legacy Seven further exhibitions followed at intervals until 1886 and the influence of Impressionism spread beyond France, especially in Britain.By the mid 1880s, the group had started to dissolve, as each artist started to pursue their own principles and interests. However, Impressionism paved the way for many avant-garde experiences that followed, from Post-Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism to Fauvism and Cubism.Post-Impressionists rejected Impressionism’s concern with a naturalistic rendering of light and colour, and focused on more symbolic content, formal order, and structure, and believed in using colour as an expression of emotions and meaning. The main proponents of this movement were Van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat, and former Impressionist artists Cézanne and Degas.Neo-Impressionists like Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and their followers, on the other hand, were inspired by optical theory, ultimately abandoning the random spontaneity of Impressionism in favour of a measured, science-based painting technique.Although initially greeted with derision, today Impressionism is widely-adored, and selling for some of the highest prices Working Girls October 2002 Issue Degas and the Dancers Obsessed by the ballet, Edgar Degas created hundreds of paintings and sculptures which captured the harsh realities of 19th-century dancers’ lives and hinged on his voyeuristic fascination with the pain ballet inflicted on female bodies. As a major exhibition devoted to Degas’s art of the dance opens in Detroit, the author explores the sexual undercurrents that drew this conservative, lifelong bachelor to his greatest subject, the creeping blindness that led to his famous wax model of 14-year-old Marie van Goethem, and the revolutionary mix of beauty and brutality that gave such power to his vision. By John Richardson May 18, 2009 This exhilarating exhibition celebrates Edgar Degas as the supreme painter of the ballet, indeed of the dance. It is a great show and a great subject, and the lines to see it—at the Detroit Institute of Arts, where it opens this month, and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it will open next February—are bound to be long. Nobody could have done this project more justice than Richard Kendall, the British Degas expert, and his partner, the former dancer and dance teacher Jill DeVonyar. Despite soaring insurance costs and owners’ reservations as to the wisdom of trundling major works of art around our dangerous new world, they have succeeded in assembling some 150 paintings, drawings, monotypes, and sculptures, including most of the artist’s key works in the field of ballet. Kendall and DeVonyar have also produced not so much a catalogue as a compendium, which covers every conceivable aspect of their subject, from detailed plans of the two Paris opera houses where Degas worked to the fact that “the little rats” (les petits rats), as the girls in the corps de ballet were known, had to dance in corsets. If you can’t make it to Detroit or Philadelphia, buy this absorbing book. To understand this puzzling genius, so reticent and aloof and—dare one use that abused word?—“cool,” we need to know about his surprisingly unbohemian, shockingly reactionary background. Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas was born in 1834 to a 26-year-old half-French, half-Italian banker with a taste for art and music and a 19-year-old Creole from New Orleans. Though new to money, the Degas family had scampered up social ladders on both sides of the Atlantic. Their fortune had been made mostly in Italy by the grandfather (a baker’s son), who had done well as a money changer in the Napoleonic Wars. He had acquired an elegant mansion in Paris and a 100-room palazzo in Naples, as well as a sumptuous villa outside the city—advantages that had enabled him to marry off his three daughters, unhappily, to minor members of the Neapolitan nobility. The New Orleans relations were likewise well housed: a plantation in the Mississippi Delta and a mansion in the Vieux Carré where Degas painted a celebrated view of the family’s offices, including portraits of his two brothers and various in-laws. Like his father and grandfather, Degas would always exemplify the chilly formality of the haute bourgeoisie of his time: a frock coat, a stovepipe hat, a walking stick (he was an obsessive collector of sticks and canes and lace handkerchiefs), as well as an expression of melancholy disdain and a scathing wit to match. Though his tongue may have been cruel, Degas was fanatically loyal to his family and friends (with one terrible exception, as we shall see). He also had rigorously old-fashioned notions of honor, which made his revolutionary approach to art all the more of an enigma. He frequented not only the artistic and intellectual salons of le tout Paris but also the racecourse, the setting for some of his finest early paintings. However, Degas’s natural element was the opera house, preferably the old one on the Rue le Peletier, which burned down in 1873. He never really warmed to Charles Garnier’s replacement, which opened in 1875. By far the largest opera house in the world at that time, this magnificent monstrosity employed 7,000 people, including a corps de ballet of 200. Watch Now: Oscar Isaac’s Met Gala Date Night With His Wife Elvira Lind The golden age of Romantic ballet was long since over. By the time Degas turned his attention to it, French ballet could hardly be considered an art form. This played into the artist’s hands. There were no great dancers to speak of, and until La Belle Otero appeared, there were no great beauties. On the contrary, photographs confirm that Degas was not exaggerating when he revealed his dancers to have been a depressingly dog-faced bunch. No wonder he preferred to show us a maître de ballet teaching a class or conducting a rehearsal rather than a ballerina strutting her stuff. Often, all we glimpse of a performance is the very end, when a dancer takes a curtain call in the unflattering glare of the footlights. And Degas did not take much interest in choreography either. What he enjoyed was deploying dancers in choreographic patterns of his own contrivance. Ballet had sunk to the level of kitschy interludes in operas—interludes that allowed bored operagoers enticing glimpses of women’s usually concealed legs. These wretched ballets had a certain negative importance. Partly because Wagner’s Tannhäuser did not include one, it was booed off the stage. Advertisement The lowly state of the ballet enabled Degas to capture the reality, in contrast to the artifice, of a dancer’s working life, above all the blood, sweat, and tears that permeated the rehearsal rooms. Another phenomenon of the ballet world that fascinated him was the presence of a number of men in top hats and fur-collared overcoats who were permitted to pay court to the dancers in the foyer de la danse (a kind of greenroom), as long as they took out a subscription for three seats a week. Degas knew many of these stage-door Johnnies and, like them, enjoyed making friends with the petits rats and helping them with their careers. However, his predatoriness took a very different form. He was not interested in capturing their onstage prettiness. He wanted to portray his “little monkey girls” under stress, “cracking their joints” at the barre, as he said, their youthful spirits crushed, their muscles in agony, their feet raw and bleeding. Degas—a misogynist in a misogynistic society—equated dancers with animals, particularly the racehorses whose musculature he had painted so lovingly in earlier years. He confessed later in life, “I have perhaps too often considered woman as an animal,” and he told the painter Georges Jeanniot, “Women can never forgive me; they hate me, they can feel that I am disarming them. I show them without their coquetry, in the state of animals cleaning themselves.” Apart from family members, fellow painters, and friends, Degas’s subjects were mostly women. In his early days, he did numerous portraits of women of his own circle, but in his middle 40s he switched to portraying women who worked—besides dancers, women whose occupations involved specific movements, gestures, or attitudes. He did countless studies of cabaret singers, mouths so wide-open that one can peer down the song-filled tunnels of their throats; prostitutes in black stockings and garters, waving their legs at prospective clients in the whorehouse parlor; sturdy laundresses yawning with fatigue as they lift irons as heavy as a gymnast’s weights or lug huge sacks of linen that put a becoming tension in their backs; and big-bottomed women at their ablutions (Baigneuses) straining to reach unreachable dorsal areas before emerging from the tub—one leg in, one leg out—to be wrapped in towels by a maid. At the time Degas was portraying them, Parisian laundresses were assumed to wash clothes by day and turn tricks by night, as many of the dancers also did. Like the laundresses, they were paid such a pittance that whoring was almost a necessity, “a form of social security,” according to the writer Richard Thomson. Likewise the “models” Degas used for his paintings of women bathing themselves by the fire in copper bathtubs that had to be filled by hand. In those days, “modeling” had the same ambiguous connotation it has in the personals columns of today’s newspapers. These women, heftier and more mature than “the little rats,” usually threw in their favors as a part of the job—favors that Degas is said to have rejected. Indeed, one of his models complained that this “odd monsieur … spent the four hours of my posing session combing my hair”; another grumbled that modeling for Degas for women meant “climbing into tubs and washing their asses”; yet another that all Degas ever did was work, that is to say paint or, more often, do pastels of the women in the attitudes or poses that their arduous occupations demanded. For, make no mistake, there was an undercurrent of cruelty in Degas’s voyeurism. He sometimes obliged the dancers who modeled for him in the studio to pose for hours on end—legs extended or bent, arms held high overhead—in excruciating discomfort, even for dancers inured to pain. For Degas, the effects of stress on the musculature of “the human animal” seemed to have been more than a matter of anatomical interest. If his brother René had not destroyed a quantity of erotic drawings after the artist’s death, we might have a more specific understanding of his attitude. Degas’s adoption of ballet as the principal vehicle for his art owed much to his long, close friendship, dating from college days, with Ludovic Halévy, a somewhat melancholy man known to his friends as la pluie qui marche (rain that walks). Halévy, who wrote plays, novels, and opera librettos (including Carmen and many of Jacques Offenbach’s operettas with Henri Meilhac), was a confirmed balletomane and had a huge success in 1872 with his novel about the opera’s ballet company, Madame et Monsieur Cardinal, described by Degas’s excellent biographer Roy McMullen as “a farcical, dryly ironical, often brutally realistic account of the adventures of two teen-age danseuses, Pauline and Virginie Cardinal, who become wealthy demimondaines with the connivance of their pandering, hypocritical, deadbeat parents.” As Halévy noted in his journal, his book was “a bit violent perhaps, but the truth.” Degas would doubtless have agreed. His dancers are cut from much the same cloth as the Cardinal sisters. He even shows us other Madame Cardinals pimping for their daughters in the purlieus of the opera. To contemporaries, Degas’s unsentimental view of the ballet, particularly the coolness and incisive skill with which he cuts through the tawdry artifice to the real beauty and ugliness and anguish underneath, was far more shocking than Halévy’s lightweight, sensational novel. Halévy eventually wrote a series of stories about the Cardinals, and Degas made monotypes to illustrate them, but his work was not published in book form. In his mid-40s, Degas, who had always suffered from poor eyesight and would ultimately go blind, took to making wax figures, partly for his own pleasure, partly to have something he could mold and feel and not just visualize. Degas’s first and most celebrated wax sculpture (also, at 39 inches, his tallest) is The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer, which is as central to his perception of the ballet as it is to the current show. The figure was exhibited only once in the artist’s lifetime, and in a state very unlike its present one. In his quest not so much for the shock of the new as the shock of the real, Degas dressed his waxwork up in a wig with a pigtail tied in a green bow and another ribbon around her neck. Her clothes—tutu, bodice, stockings, ballet shoes—were all real. He tried to tint the girl’s waxen face and arms flesh color—alas, they came out blotchy. Similar figures of the Holy Family and saints, adorned with halos and wigs and jeweled crowns, can still be found in the churches of Southern Europe. However, Degas was among the first to use raiment to enhance reality rather than promote religious uplift. The resultant effigy was a succès de scandale, and Degas would never exhibit any of his sculptures again. It was only after his death that the waxes were cast in bronze by his heirs (150 of the originals had survived, mostly in bits and pieces; about half of them were castable). The Little Dancer was in an especially sorry state, her arms half off, but Adrien Hébrard, the celebrated bronze founder, and his assistant managed to piece the figure together again. It was a horrendous job—for instance, the bodice had been glued to the wax torso and then partly smeared with more wax. Nevertheless, the casts were remarkably successful, and although not entirely faithful to the original, they incorporate some of the real-life elements, the tutu and the bow. When the Philadelphia collector Henry McIlhenny acquired a cast of The Little Dancer, he was amused to find that the figure came with a change of tutus and a second bow for her hair. Advertisement All 74 of the original waxes—including a number of naked dancers in classical poses—were supposedly cast in an edition of 22 copies each. Except for The Little Dancer, of which there may be as many as 27 casts, those intended for sale were lettered alphabetically, A through T. A librarian friend of mine who kept a record of all the casts he could find told me that the existence of more than one identically marked example of the same cast led him to suspect that Hébrard’s lettering had not been as scrupulous as it might have been. Also, Gary Tinterow, the New York Metropolitan Museum curator and Degas specialist, wonders whether an expert should not be called in to identify the innumerable fingerprints on the waxes. He believes that many of them would turn out not to be Degas’s. A hundred years ago the public erred in seeing Degas’s ballet images as brutal. These days the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. I realized this all too clearly at the Metropolitan Museum’s magnificent 1988 retrospective when I overheard two women gushing over The Little Dancer. “Isn’t she darling?—just like my little Stephanie when she first started doing ballet. We dressed her up like this and photographed her in the same cute pose. She, too, knew she was going to be a ballerina.” In leaning forward to touch the emblematic tutu, the woman triggered an alarm, and at the same time one in me. Ballet mothers had not changed. Far from being a suitable role model for little Stephanie, Marie van Goethem, the “little rat” who posed for The Little Dancer, might have stepped straight out of the pages of Halévy’s novel. She was one of three daughters, all students at the Paris Opera school, born to a Belgian tailor and a Parisian laundress and part-time prostitute. One daughter was a hardworking dancer who ended up as a ballet instructor; Marie and the other one took after their mother. This sculpture is not about adolescent cuteness; it’s about guttersnipe grit and cheekiness. The same goes for most of the other great representations of ballet in this show: the more you study them, the more you realize that Degas never lies, never sentimentalizes the glamour or the plight of “the little rats.” His paintings, pastels, and monotypes are statements of fact, which carry the more conviction for being sublimely phrased. Degas’s sexuality, or lack of it, has always been a bit of a mystery. Especially puzzling is the contrast between the eroticism implicit in his ballet subjects and the chill and detachment of his presentation of them. Several of the artist’s friends came up with possible solutions to the mystery but little in the way of evidence. Manet was convinced that Degas was “not capable of loving a woman”; Léon Hennique, a minor writer, reported that he and the artist had shared two sisters, one of whom had complained of Degas’s virtual impotence. Van Gogh, whose work Degas admired and collected, came up with an explanation which tells us more about himself than Degas, but is nonetheless revealing. He put Degas’s “trouble having an erection” down to fears that sex might diminish his creative urge: “Degas lives like a little notary and does not love women because he knows that if he … spent a lot of time kissing them he would become mentally ill and inept.… Degas’s painting is vigorously masculine.… He looks at the human animals who are stronger than he is and [they] are kissing each other … and he paints them well, precisely because he himself is not at all pretentious about having erections.” Picasso, who may well have met Degas through the Spanish painter Ignacio Zuloaga, was particularly fascinated by Degas’s private life. I know, because I gave him one of the brothel monotypes: “Far and away the best things he ever did,” Picasso said. As a result, he asked me to track down as many others as I could. He ended up acquiring 12 more—a collection of which he was very proud, proud above all of their “vérité.” “You can actually smell them,” he would say as he showed them off to friends. Why, Picasso would ask, did Degas, who devoted his life to portraying women, not only never marry but never even have an attachment? Was he impotent or syphilitic, kinky or homosexual? After considering these and more ribald possibilities, Picasso concluded that the problem was not impotence but voyeurism: a diagnosis Degas himself had hinted at when he told the Irish writer George Moore that looking at his work was “as if you looked through a keyhole.” Since his father bore a striking resemblance to Degas, and not only went blind around the same time but also shared his taste for brothels, Picasso at 90 did a series of prints—variations on the brothel monotypes in his collection—to commemorate Degas as a father figure. On the extreme right or left edge of the prints, a Degas look-alike watches the whores, occasionally sketching them or, as Picasso reportedly put it, “fucking them with his failing eyes.” To emphasize the voyeurism, Picasso added wirelike lines to connect Degas’s gaze to the nipples and pubic triangles that are its targets. The ownership of so many monotypes apparently gave Picasso a sense of heaven-sent entitlement. However, there is evidence—as opposed to hearsay—that Degas was sexually active. In a letter to the bravura portraitist Giovanni Boldini, before the two of them set off for Spain in 1889, Degas provides the address of a discreet purveyor of condoms: “Since seduction is a distinct possibility in Andalusia, we should take care to bring back only good things from our journey.” Degas’s fear of infection was certainly justified. A professional model reported that—like most men of his period who frequented brothels—he had confessed to having had a venereal disease. The same model complained of Degas’s famously filthy language. In the end, who can wonder at Degas’s failure to take a suitable wife or mistress? Like many another member of the haute bourgeoisie, this complex genius evidently wanted to rebel against social constraints—above all rituals of courtship and marriage—just as he had rebelled against artistic constraints. Might he not have wanted to indulge in some nostalgie de la boue, a taste for low life that so often goes hand in hand with fastidiousness? The last 20 years of Degas’s life were a tragic struggle. He had to adapt his superb technique to his worsening eyesight, which enabled him to see “around the spot at which he was looking and never the spot itself,” according to his friend the English painter Walter Sickert. Amazingly, the late dancers and women washing themselves or combing their hair are more daring and dramatic in their simplifications than most of his previous work. Contours become thicker and more emphatic, colors brighter and more strident. There is even a trend toward abstraction, particularly in landscapes inspired by the blur of scenery glimpsed from a moving train. Meticulous brushstrokes give way to rougher passages of paint applied by hand as well as by brush. The artist’s fingerprints dapple the surface of the paint just as they dapple the surface of his waxes. Besides this late breakthrough, Degas had little to console him in his loneliness and looming blindness. The deaths of many of his closest friends made this sardonic man even more sardonic. Far from failing him, his celebrated wit grew ever more bitter. Painter friends were treated as if they were foes. Renoir was compared to “a cat playing with a multicolored ball of yarn”; that Symbolist visionary, Gustave Moreau, was “a hermit who knows what time the trains leave”; a visit to the baroque studio belonging to José Mariá Sert, “the Tiepolo of the Ritz,” prompted the comment “How very Spanish—and in such a quiet street.” In front of one of his friend Eugène Carrière’s famously foggy mother-and-child studies, Degas observed that someone must have been smoking in the nursery. Meanest of all was his quip to Oscar Wilde, who told Degas how well known he was in England: “Fortunately less so than you” was the reply. And when Liberty’s opened an Art Nouveau branch in Paris, he could not resist remarking, “So much taste will lead to prison.” Joking aside, Degas’s most painful affliction was the Dreyfus Affair. The artist’s passionate anti-Dreyfus stance and lapse into virulent anti-Semitism can best be understood, though certainly not condoned, in the context of the Degas family’s business debacle in New Orleans and Naples as well as Paris. As a result of the American Civil War and the Paris Commune, René Degas’s cotton brokerage and import-export business failed and took the bank down with it. Degas, who was scrupulous about such things, made himself responsible for his brother’s debts. The bailout crippled the artist’s finances and meant that he had to give up a spacious apartment and move to a studio in Montmartre. He also had to make more of an effort with dealers to promote the sale of his work. Degas blamed his misfortunes on big Jewish bankers such as the Rothschilds, whose expansion had done in some of the smaller banks. We should also remember that the villains in the Dreyfus case were the War Ministry’s corrupt administrators. To a reactionary patriot like Degas, any criticism of the army was tantamount to treachery. The saddest consequence of Degas’s anti-Dreyfus stance was his break with Ludovic Halévy, his dearest friend for the previous 40 years and one of the few to share his ironic attitude to the ballet. Degas would never see Ludovic again, but Ludovic’s son, Daniel, was more forgiving. He had idolized Degas since childhood and from the age of 16 had kept a journal of the artist’s doings and sayings. Shortly before he died, at the age of 90 in 1962, Daniel Halévy revised and published this delightful journal (Degas Parle …). His book gives an intimate and surprisingly touching portrait of the paradoxical genius: so noble that he sacrificed his fortune for his brother’s honor, such a bigot that he sacrificed the closest of all his friendships to anti-Semitism, and yet so devoted to truth in art that he spared nobody, least of all himself, in his pursuit of it. In a celebrated 1886 review, J. K. Huysmans, the doyen of fin de siècle decadence, commended Degas for his “admirable dance pictures,” in which he depicts “the moral decay of the venal female rendered stupid by [her] mechanical gambols and monotonous jumps.… In addition to the note of scorn and loathing one should notice the unforgettable veracity of the figures, captured with an ample, biting draftsmanship, with a lucid and controlled passion, with an icy feverishness.” This magnificent exhibition, “Degas and the Dance,” will reveal far more to the viewer who sees it through Huysmans’s eyes than to one who sees it through those of little Stephanie’s mother. John Richardson is an art historian. Degas and His Dancers A major exhibition and a new ballet bring the renowned artist’s obsession with dance center stage Paul Trachtman April 2003 The Dance Class (La Classe de Danse), 1873–1876, oil on canvas, by Edgar Degas Wikimedia Commons “Yesterday I spent the whole day in the studio of a strange painter called Degas,” Parisian man of letters Edmond de Goncourt wrote in his diary in 1874. “Out of all the subjects in modern life he has chosen washerwomen and ballet dancers . . . it is a world of pink and white . . . the most delightful of pretexts for using pale, soft tints.” Edgar Degas, 39 years old at the time, would paint ballerinas for the rest of his career, and de Goncourt was right about the pretext. “People call me the painter of dancing girls,” Degas later told Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard. “It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes.” Degas loved to deflate the image people had of him, but his words ring true, expressing his love for the grace of drawing and the charm of color. As a student Degas dreamed of drawing like Raphael and Michelangelo, and he later revived the French tradition of pastels that had flourished with the 18th-century master Chardin. But like his contemporaries, Manet, Cézanne and the Impressionists, he lived in an age of photography and electricity, and he turned to aspects of modern life—to slums, brothels and horse races—to apply his draftsmanship. Bathing nudes became a favorite subject, but he once compared his more contemporary studies to those of Rembrandt with mocking wit. “He had the luck, that Rembrandt!” Degas said. “He painted Susanna at the bath; me, I paint women at the tub.” At the ballet Degas found a world that excited both his taste for classical beauty and his eye for modern realism. He haunted the wings and classrooms of the magnificent Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opéra and its Ballet, where some of the city’s poorest young girls struggled to become the fairies, nymphs and queens of the stage. As he became part of this world of pink and white, so full of tradition, he invented new techniques for drawing and painting it. He claimed the ballet for modern art just as Cézanne was claiming the landscape. The writer Daniel Halévy, who as a youth often talked with Degas, later noted that it was at the Opéra that Degas hoped to find subjects of composition as valid as Delacroix had found in history. Now Degas’s pencil and chalk drawings, monotype prints and pastels, oil paintings and sculptures of ballerinas have been gathered from museums and private collections around the world for an exhibition entitled “Degas and the Dance.” The show was organized by the American Federation of Arts along with the Detroit Institute of the Arts, where it was first shown last year, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it is on display through May 11. In the accompanying catalog, guest curators and art historians Richard Kendall, a Degas authority, and Jill DeVonyar, a former ballet dancer, trace Degas’s life backstage based on their research in the records of the Paris Opéra Ballet. And this month at the Palais Garnier, the Ballet will premiere a dazzling new work, La Petite Danseuse de Degas, about the ballerina who posed for Degas’s most celebrated sculpture, the Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. Sparked by research in the late 1990s by the ballet company’s cultural director, Martine Kahane, and choreographed by Opéra ballet master Patrice Bart, the new work—part fact, part fantasy—is designed to evoke the world of ballet that entranced Degas and to capture the atmosphere of his paintings. The ballerinas Degas bequeathed to us remain among the most popular images in 19th-century art. The current exhibition is a reminder of just how daring the artist was in creating them. He cropped his pictures as a photographer would (and also became one); he defied traditional composition, opting for asymmetry and radical viewpoints; and he rubbed pastels over his monotype (or one-of-a-kind) prints, creating dramatic effects. Yet he always managed to keep an eye on the great masters of the past. His younger friend, the poet Paul Valéry, described him as “divided against himself; on the one hand driven by an acute preoccupation with truth, eager for all the newly introduced and more or less felicitous ways of seeing things and of painting them; on the other hand possessed by a rigorous spirit of classicism, to whose principles of elegance, simplicity and style he devoted a lifetime of analysis.” Degas became a painter in an extraordinary period and place. He was born in Paris in 1834, two years after Manet and during a decade that saw the birth of the painters Cézanne, Monet, Renoir and Berthe Morisot and the poets Mallarmé and Verlaine. His father was a banker and art lover who supported his son’s studies, sending him in 1855 to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The family had branches in Italy and in the United States (his mother was Creole, born in New Orleans), and young Degas went to Italy to study the masters, spending several years in Naples, Florence and Rome, where he copied Vatican treasures and Roman antiquities, before returning to Paris in 1859. There he at first labored with huge canvases—historical subjects and portraits like those Ingres and Delacroix had painted a generation before— for the RoyalAcademy’s official Salon exhibitions. Then in 1862, while copying a Velázquez at the Louvre, Degas met the artist Edouard Manet, who drew him into the circle of Impressionist painters. It was in part due to Manet’s influence that Degas turned to subjects from contemporary life, including café scenes, the theater and dance. Degas’s affluence was not unique among the painters of his day. His young friend Daniel Halévy called him “one of the children of the Second Empire,” a period that had produced an enormously rich bourgeoisie. These artists, Halévy said, included “the Manets, the Degas, the Cézannes, the Puvis de Chavannes. They pursued their work without asking anything of anyone.” As Halévy saw it, financial independence was the root of modern art in his day. “Their state of liberty is rare in the history of the arts, perhaps unique,” he reflected. “Never were artists freer in their researches.” Degas found a studio and an apartment in the bohemian district of Montmartre, where he lived and worked most of his life. It was a quarter of artists’ studios and cabarets, the well-off and the poor, washerwomen and prostitutes. As Kendall and DeVonyar point out, his neighbors over the years included Renoir, Gustave Moreau (later Matisse’s teacher), Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt and van Gogh, as well as musicians, dancers and other artists who worked at the Paris Opéra and its ballet. One of Degas’s close friends was the writer Ludovic Halévy (Daniel’s father), who collaborated with popular composers such as Delibes, Offenbach and Bizet. The artist could walk from his apartment to the gallery of art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, where he showed one of his first ballet pictures in 1871, and to the old rue Le Peletier opera house, which was destroyed by fire in 1873. Opera and ballet were a fashionable part of Parisian cultural life, and Degas was likely in the audience long before he began to paint the dancers. Indeed, some of his first dance paintings portray the audience and orchestra as prominently as the ballerinas onstage. Degas also wanted to get behind the scenes, but that wasn’t easy. It was a privilege paid for by wealthy male subscription holders, called abonnés, who often lurked in the foyers, flirted with the dancers in the wings and laid siege to their dressing rooms. Degas at first had to invoke the help of influential friends to slip him into the ballerinas’ private world (he would later become an abonné himself). In a circa 1882 letter to Albert Hecht, a prominent collector and friend, he wrote, “My dear Hecht, Have you the power to get the Opéra to give me a pass for the day of the dance examination, which, so I have been told, is to be on Thursday? I have done so many of these dance examinations without having seen them that I am a little ashamed of it.” For a time, Degas turned his attention to the abonnés, stalking them as they stalked the dancers. In the 1870s the elder Halévy had written a series of stories, The Cardinal Family, satirizing the often sordid affairs of young dancers, their mothers and the abonnés. Degas produced a suite of monotype prints for the stories, portraying the abonnés as dark, top-hatted figures. (Similar figures would appear in some of his other compositions as well.) Although Halévy didn’t use them when the collection was published, they are among Degas’s most haunting dance images, with a realism reminiscent of the caricatures of his contemporary, Daumier. Though Degas exhibited his work with the Impressionists, his realism always set him apart. The Impressionists, complained the poet Valéry, “reduced the whole intellectual side of art to a few questions about texture and the coloring of shadows. The brain became nothing but retina.” Degas’s contemporaries saw something more in his work. Daniel Halévy described it as a “depoetization” of life, a fascination with the simplest, most intimate, least beautiful gestures— ballerinas stretching at the bar, practicing positions, waiting in the wings, taking instruction, scratching themselves, tying their shoes, adjusting their tutus, rubbing sore muscles, fixing their hair, fanning, talking, flirting, daydreaming, and doing almost everything but dancing. Degas’s pictures of ballerinas performing onstage convey exquisitely what makes ballet ballet—all that balance, grace and radiance that a contemporary critic called “mimed poetry, dream made visible.” But, paradoxically, Degas preferred to portray ballet by stripping away the poetry and illusion to show the hard work, the boredom, the more common beauty behind the scenes. In a sonnet written about 1889, Degas addressed the young ballerinas: “One knows that in your world / Queens are made of distance and greasepaint.” Some complained that the greasepaint showed. Degas’s idol Ingres, who had advised him as a neophyte painter to draw constantly from memory and nature, and who had painted dancing nymphs into his own romantic tableaus, longed for the more courtly ballet of earlier days. “We see wretches disfigured by their efforts, red, inflamed with fatigue, and so indecently strapped-up that they would be more modest if they were naked,” he wrote. In 1875, a new Paris opera house opened—the Palais Garnier, named after its architect, Charles Garnier. It was a towering edifice of marble ornament and gilded decor, all but encrusted with antique statuary and classic murals. Garnier designed a mirrored foyer for backstage, he wrote, “as a setting for the charming swarms of ballerinas, in their picturesque and coquettish costumes.” To the young student dancers, affectionately called “petit rats,” Degas with his sketch pad became a familiar sight. Abackstage friend noted, “He comes here in the morning. He watches all the exercises in which the movements are analyzed, and . . . nothing in the most complicated step escapes his gaze.” One ballerina later recalled that he “used to stand at the top or bottom of the many staircases . . . drawing the dancers as they rushed up and down.” Sometimes he made notes on his drawings, criticizing a dancer’s balance, or the placement of a leg. On one sketch he jotted down a teacher’s comment about a student’s awkwardness: “She looks like a dog pissing.” But the drawings Degas made backstage were few compared with the prodigious number he produced in his studio, where he paid petit rats and accomplished ballerinas to pose. In fact, Degas’s studio was once visited by an inspector from the police morals unit, wanting to know why so many little girls were coming and going. “Think of it!” writes the Opéra’s Martine Kahane. “The district of prostitutes and laundresses was alarmed!” Degas enjoyed the company of these dancers, who shared gossip with him as they posed, but his affection for them was paternal. Trying to advance the career of one young dancer, he wrote to Ludovic Halévy, “You must know what a dancer is like who wants you to put in a word for her. She comes back twice a day to know if one has seen, if one has written. . . . And she wants it done at once. And she would like, if she could, to take you in her arms wrapped in a blanket and carry you to the Opéra!” Unlike his brother Achille, who had an affair with a ballerina, Degas seems to have remained chaste and was, in the view of many, a misogynist. When told that a certain lady failed to show up at one of his dinners because she was “suffering,” he relayed her comment scornfully to a friend. “Wasn’t it true?” the friend asked. “How does one ever know?” retorted Degas. “Women invented the word ‘suffering.’ ” Yet he became close friends with a number of women, including painters Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, and some of the leading opera divas and prima ballerinas of the day. Later in life Degas gained a reputation as a recluse, even a misanthrope. This was partly because his eyesight began failing in the 1870s, a problem that often depressed him. But his biting wit helped to isolate him as well. “I am not a misanthrope, far from it,” he told Daniel Halévy in 1897, “but it is sad to live surrounded by scoundrels.” He could put people off—“I want people to believe me wicked,” he once declared— but he had misgivings about his attitude. In his 60s, he wrote to a friend, “I am meditating on the state of celibacy, and a good three quarters of what I tell myself is sad.” The sketches Degas made in his studio and backstage at the Opéra were only the starting point for an artist who loved to experiment and rarely considered anything finished. He would make repeated tracings from his drawings as a way of correcting them, recalled Vollard. “He would usually make the corrections by beginning the new figure outside of the original outlines, the drawing growing larger and larger until a nude no bigger than a hand became life-size—only to be abandoned in the end.” The single figures in his sketches would show up in his paintings as part of a group, only to reappear in other scenes in other paintings. When a friend taught him how to make a monotype print by drawing on an inked plate that was then run through a press, Degas at once did something unexpected. After making one print, he quickly made a second, faded impression from the leftover ink on the plate, then worked with pastels and gouache over this ghostly image. The result was an instant success—a collector bought the work, The Ballet Master, on the advice of Mary Cassatt. More important, this technique gave Degas a new way to depict the artificial light of the stage. The soft colors of his pastels took on a striking luminosity when laid over the harsher black-and-white contrasts of the underlying ink. Degas showed at least five of these images in 1877 at the third Impressionist exhibition in Paris—a show that, art historian Charles Stuckey points out, included “the daring series of smoke-filled views inside the Gare St. Lazare by Monet and the large, sun-speckled group portrait at the Moulin de la Galette by Renoir.” During the last 20 years of his career, Degas worked in a large fifth-floor studio in lower Montmartre above his living quarters and a private museum for his own art collection. Paul Valéry sometimes visited him there: “He would take me into a long attic room,” Valéry wrote, “with a wide bay window (not very clean) where light and dust mingled gaily. The room was pell-mell—with a basin, a dull zinc bathtub, stale bathrobes, a dancer modeled in wax with a real gauze tutu in a glass case, and easels loaded with charcoal sketches.” Valéry and other visitors also noticed stacks of paintings turned against the walls, a piano, double basses, violins and a scattering of ballet shoes and dusty tutus. Prince Eugen of Sweden, who visited in 1896, “wondered how Degas could find any specific color in the jumble of crumbling pastels.” The wax model of a dancer in a tutu standing in a glass case was undoubtedly Degas’s Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen. When it was first shown, at the sixth Impressionist exhibition in 1881, the work was adorned with a real costume and hair. Two-thirds life-size, it was too real for many viewers, who found her “repulsive,” a “flower of the gutter.” But in her pose Degas had caught the essence of classical ballet, beautifully illustrating an 1875 technique manual’s admonition that a ballerina’s “shoulders must be held low and the head lifted. . . . ” Degas never exhibited the Little Dancer again, keeping it in his studio among the many other wax models that he used for making new drawings. The sculpture was cast in bronze (some 28 are now known to exist) only after his death in 1917, at age 83. The girl who posed for Degas’s Little Dancer, Marie van Goethem, lived near his studio and took classes at the Opéra’s ballet school. She was one of three sisters, all training to become ballerinas, and all apparently sketched by Degas. According to Martine Kahane, Marie passed all her early exams, rising from the ranks of petit rats to enter the corps de ballet at 15, a year after Degas made the sculpture. But only two years later, she was dismissed because she was late or absent at the ballet too often. Madame van Goethem, a widow who was working as a laundress, was apparently prostituting her daughters. In an 1882 newspaper clipping titled “Paris at Night,” Marie was said to be a regular at two all-night cafés, the Rat Mort and the brasserie des Martyrs, hangouts of artists, models, bohemians, journalists and worse. The writer continued, “Her mother . . . But no: I don’t want to say any more. I’d say things that would make one blush, or make one cry.” Marie’s older sister, Antoinette, was arrested for stealing money from her lover’s wallet at a bar called Le Chat Noir, and landed in jail for three months. The youngest sister, Charlotte, became a soloist with the Ballet and, it would be nice to think, lived happily ever after. But Marie seems to have disappeared without a trace. Emile Zola made novels of such tales, and now the Opéra’s ballet master, Patrice Bart, 58, has turned Marie’s story into a modern ballet. For Bart, who joined the ballet school at age 10, it’s a labor of love. “A lot of the story took place in the Palais Garnier,” he says. “And I have been living in the Palais Garnier for 42 years. Voilà!” He won a place in the corps de ballet at 14, and became an étoile, or star, in his 20s. In the 1980s he danced for the company’s renowned director, Russian defector Rudolf Nureyev, and at age 40 he took on the role of ballet master and choreographer. In his new ballet, Bart comes to grips with the same issue that confronted Degas: the synthesis of tradition and innovation. “I was a classical dancer,” he says, “and I try to move slightly toward the modern stuff.” Nureyev, he says, taught him to be aware of new ways of thinking, of dancing. “If you deny this, he believed, it will be the end of classical ballet. And that’s what Degas did, working in a classical world, but the painting was very modern.” Bart’s ballet opens with a ballerina posed like the Little Dancer, encased in a glass box. The glass drops down and the Little Dancer comes to life, stepping into a montage of scenes from her story as well as Bart’s imagination. “There was no man in that story,” he says, “but to make a ballet you have to have a man and a lady, to make pas de deux, pas de trois. So I added the role of the abonné, the ideal masculine man.” In the ballet, the Little Dancer becomes an étoile before the evil mother corrupts her and she goes to prison. Throughout the piece, the dancers mix modern dance moves with their classical glissades and pirouettes. “And then,” says Bart, “in a classical ballet from the 19th century you always have the white act, what we call the ballet blanc. So I thought I’d make a scene where she becomes a laundress, and the stage is filled with white sheets, and she sort of fades out, as when people die.” As for Degas, he appears in Bart’s ballet only as a mysterious, dark, top-hatted figure, like one of the abonnés he painted, wandering through the scenes. At the end of the ballet, the glass box comes up from the floor and the Little Dancer is once again trapped inside. “I hope the ballet will bring Degas to life for young dancers now,” Bart says. “That’s why I created the role of the étoile, because it’s every little girl starting school, thinking maybe one day. . . . And very few get there. I want to create the atmosphere of Degas, but not as in a museum. It’s like a painting coming to life.” Degas would surely have loved to see these dancers at work on a ballet inspired by his creation. “With the exception of the heart, it seems to me that everything within me is growing old in proportion,” he wrote to a friend in January 1886. “And even this heart of mine has something artificial. The dancers have sewn it into a bag of pink satin, pink satin slightly faded, like their dancing shoes.” Paul Trachtman . The man who made Monet: how impressionism was saved from obscurity Light reflections … A detail from Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (1872), dismissed by critics as worse than wallpaper. Photograph: Getty Images How did the impressionist painters, once attacked by critics, become a global force? A major exhibition reveals their change in fortune was all down to one man – and he wasn’t even an artist Michael Prodger Sat 21 Feb 2015 03.00 ESTLast modified on Thu 22 Feb 2018 12.29 EST It is one of the ironies of impressionism, the quintessential French movement, that it had its beginning and its end not in Paris but in London. It is another irony that the key figure in the movement was not a painter but, that most maligned of species, a dealer. In 1871, having fled the Franco-Prussian war, Claude Monet was living in London. It was in January that year that the landscapist Charles-François Daubigny took him along to the inaptly named German Gallery on New Bond Street and introduced him to the proprietor, another French expat, named Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). Whether or not the gallerist believed Daubigny’s words of introduction – “This artist will surpass us all” – he liked Monet’s work well enough to buy numerous canvases and, a few days later, paintings by his fellow artist-refugee Camille Pissarro, too. This meeting and the chain of introductions, friendships and innumerable business transactions it put in motion was to culminate 24 years later with an exhibition just down the road on Bond Street at the Grafton Galleries. The exhibition, sometimes known as The Apotheosis of Impressionism, contained 315 pictures and was, and remains, the largest show of impressionist works ever held. For Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley and their peers it was final confirmation that their struggle to win acceptance for their unacademic, light-infused paintings had been successful. For Durand-Ruel, it was validation of his steadfast support for this group of avant-garde painters which had several times put him on the point of financial ruin. As he noted: “My madness had been wisdom. To think that, had I passed away at 60, I would have died debt-ridden and bankrupt, surrounded by a wealth of underrated treasures.” Two Dancers Resting by Degas. Photograph (Musée d’Orsay) /Hervé Lewandowski. Innovative artists needed an innovative dealer and Durand-Ruel’s particular genius was not just to spot the talent of the young impressionists, but to promote them indefatigably and create a market for them where previously there had been none. It was a long-term project born of his faith that financial rewards – for the artists as much as himself – would come when the rest of the world saw them the way he did. To gain them the recognition he was convinced they deserved, he developed a range of new ways of promoting them that redefined the relationship between dealers and artists. Durand-Ruel’s achievement as cheerleader, entrepreneur, patron, and helpmeet is the subject of the National Gallery’s new exhibition Inventing Impressionism: The Man who Sold a Thousand Monets. Through 85 paintings, all but one of which passed through Durand-Ruel’s hands, it tells the story of the triumph of impressionism. The match between the dealer and his painters was not seemingly a natural one. Durand-Ruel was a monarchist Catholic patriot, a stance born in part out of the experiences of his grandfather who had been imprisoned by Robespierre during the French Revolution and almost lost his head. “In a democracy,” Paul said, “everything goes awry and the blind claim to be steering the boat. The result is clear to see.” The would-be impressionists on the other hand were a heterogenous mix of republican liberals who, in Pissarro, also had one fully fledged anarchist (at one point he was on a police watchlist and his correspondence was regularly intercepted). Durand-Ruel was a conservative who nurtured radicals. Nor was he an instinctive dealer. When he took over the business from his father, he initially went about his work with more of a sense of duty than enthusiasm. It was the 1855 Exposition Universelle, and in particular the 35 pictures by Eugène Delacroix on display there, that converted him. The paintings represented for him “the triumph of modern art over academic art … they permanently opened my eyes and reinforced the idea that I might, perhaps, in my own humble way, be of some service to true artists by helping to make them better understood and appreciated”. The artists to whom Durand-Ruel first rendered a service belonged to “the beautiful School of 1830” comprising Courbet and Delacroix and the Barbizon painters Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Théodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet. When he returned from London, Monet and Pissarro introduced him to Renoir, Sisley, Degas and the other leading players of their group and he took them up, too. His care took various forms. He started to buy their work in bulk and paid them a monthly sum as well, dealing with their bills for everything from rent and tailors to paint suppliers and doctors. He doled out moral support, even offering Monet a room in his house to use as a studio. He did everything in his power to ensure that the artists, not yet the impressionists but the “intransigents”, were free to paint. “My fellow dealers,” he noted, “thought I was spoiling the artists.” A detail of Renoir’s portrait of Paul Durand Ruel One example of his methods came in 1871 when he saw two paintings by Manet in the studio of the Belgian artist Alfred Stevens and bought them on the spot. Manet at this point was a hero figure to the proto-impressionists and a painter of some repute and notoriety who had, however, sold very few paintings. Durand-Ruel admitted that he had “never seriously looked at Manet’s work” and that he was “unaware of this artist’s talent”. The next day though he proceeded to Manet’s own studio and “bought on the spot, everything I found there”. This amounted to a cache of 23 paintings for which he paid 35,000 francs, a sum that freed the artist from all immediate financial concerns. Among the paintings were key works including The Dead Toreador and The Fife Player. It took Durand-Ruel a year to pay off Manet, an indication of both the dealer’s limited funds and the extent to which he was willing to back his hunch that the artist would, at some point, come good in market terms. The bulk purchase is neatly recorded in a stock book held in the Durand-Ruel archives; a barely believable column of Manet after Manet, nestling among other purchases from Monet, Degas et al. Durand-Ruel’s own enthusiasm was not, however, widely shared; he recorded in his memoirs that the paintings “were not only misunderstood but they appalled most of my clients” and he sold them eventually for just a “few hundred francs profit”. It was a problem Durand-Ruel faced repeatedly: “All my efforts were thwarted by the violent campaign mounted against Manet, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Degas and Puvis de Chavannes, and other artists whose works I had the audacity to show in my galleries.” He found himself and his charges “attacked and reviled by upholders of the academy and old doctrines, by the most established art critics, by the entire press and by most of my colleagues”. He had successfully set about creating a near monopoly in their works but he had cornered the market in paintings very few people wanted. The situation was slow to change. As a result of repeated rejections by the official Salon, Monet, Degas and their colleagues had resolved never to exhibit there. Instead, in 1874, they held what became known as the First Impressionist Exhibition (they didn’t take on the group title until the third exhibition in 1877 when they adopted the critic Louis Leroy’s term of abuse as a badge of honour: the group had been dubbed impressionists since he derided Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise – “Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape”). There were eight impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886 and Leroy’s reaction was typical of the reception that greeted them. Both public and critics were mystified by what they saw, baffled by the paintings’ lack of finish, their bright colours and quotidian subject matter (none of which stopped them coming to look anyway). Reviewing the 1876 exhibition at the Galerie Durand-Ruel, Albert Wolff of Figaro summed up the general feeling: “Following upon the burning of the Opera-House, a new disaster has fallen upon the quarter. There has just been opened at Mr Durand-Ruel’s an exhibition of what is said to be painting … Five or six lunatics, of whom one is a woman [Berthe Morisot], have chosen to exhibit their works. There are people who burst into laughter in front of these objects. Personally I am saddened by them.” Durand-Ruel is the reason why the US has more impressionist works than anywhere else outside France Faced by this public scorn Durand-Ruel had to find ways of changing public perception, without which his periods of financial crisis would become terminal. One of the ways to do this was by printing engravings after his stock. In 1873, for example, he produced a Recueil des Estampes Gravées à l’Eau-forte that included works he was selling by Goya, David, Delacroix and Courbet, as well as Manet, Monet and Pissarro. He mixed his moderns with earlier greats to suggest an unbroken artistic lineage. Because the Salon and the Musée de Luxembourg permitted artists to show only one or two works at their exhibitions, Durand-Ruel took a novel approach and systematically started to hold solo exhibitions of his painters. Even though the painters were still young, these took the form of retrospectives and included early works as well as still-wet pictures straight from the studio. Some of Monet’s series paintings of poplars and Rouen Cathedral, for example, were painted specifically for a one-man show. In early 1883 alone Durand-Ruel staged exhibitions of Boudin, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Sisley. Not that his artists were always appreciative. In answer to one of Monet’s periodic moans, Durand-Ruel was forced to defend himself: “It is not enough to create [masterpieces]. They must be put on display. You think I am not showing your pictures enough … They are all I am showing; they are all I have concerned myself with for some years now; I have put into them all my heart, all my time and all my fortune, and that of my family.” Monet’s house in Giverny (1900). Photograph: National Gallery Among the other methods used to bolster his artists, Durand-Ruel would sell works through other dealers on a profit-sharing basis, and he did this with collectors, too. He would lend works against business capital and buy his own artists’ paintings at auction to inflate the price. He also opened his own house to visitors on Tuesdays, when the main galleries were closed, so that his collection of impressionist works could be seen. One magazine reported that visitors “invariably left with inflamed eyes”. He also commissioned the likes of Stéphane Mallarmé, Octave Mirbeau and Emile Zola to write the prefaces for his catalogues. And he opened galleries in Brussels and New York as well as Paris, all specially lit to show the paintings to best effect. It was in fact the US that turned Durand-Ruel’s long-term speculative project into a financial success. In 1885, he received an invitation from James Sutton, director of the American Art Association, to exhibit in New York. Mary Cassatt inveigled her brother Alexander, a railroad magnate and one of the men who financed Grand Central station, into acting as an intermediary. Durand-Ruel sailed with 300 pictures (even though Monet was concerned about seeing his pictures “leave the country for the land of the Yankees”) and found there a new, unprejudiced type of collector eager for impressionist art. “The Americans do not laugh,” said Durand-Ruel, “they buy.” Durand-Ruel is the reason why America has more impressionist works than anywhere else outside France. The US was his “salvation” and put his business on a sound footing. He would also deal in old masters (the stock book for 1892 shows sales of Van Dyck, Raphael, Canaletto and Tiepolo among others) but, as he had written to Monet, the impressionists had his heart. The painters knew it, too: “We would have died of hunger without Durand-Ruel, all we impressionists,” said Monet. “We owe him everything. He persisted, stubborn, risking bankruptcy 20 times in order to back us.” Renoir, the painter who was as much the dealer’s friend as a client, put things more poetically: “Durand-Ruel was a missionary. It was our good fortune that his religion was painting.” Inventing Impressionism: The Man Who Sold a Thousand Monets opens at the National Gallery, London WC2N, on 4 March. nationalgallery.org.uk. How Japanese Art Influenced and Inspired European Impressionist Artists By Kelly Richman-Abdou on May 14, 2022 Widely known as the first modern art movement, Impressionism remains one of the most popular and prevalent forms of art today. While much of the groundbreaking genre was impressively original, Impressionists, like most artists, found inspiration in other forms of art—namely, in Japanese woodblock prints. Here, we explore the ways in which Ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world,” inspired the Impressionists in terms of content, style, and approach, culminating in a creative and timelessly artistic relationship. What is Japonisme? Japonisme is a word used to describe the study of Japanese art and, more specifically, its influence on European works. While the phenomenon is present in a range of movements—including Art Nouveau and Post-Impressionism—it is most closely associated with Impressionism, as artists like Claude Monet and Edgar Degas were particularly inspired by the subject matter, perspective, and composition of Japanese woodblock prints. Claude Monet, “Camille Monet in Japanese Costume,” 1875 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) History of Japonisme In 1874, the same year that Impressionism officially emerged with Claude Monet’s painting, Impression, Sunrise, French collector and critic Philippe Burty coined the term Japonisme. While, today, the term refers to all Japanese art forms’ influence on any art movement, it is usually used to describe woodblock prints’ prominent role in Impressionism. Monet’s collection of Ukiyo-e prints at his home in Giverny, France (Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0) Though Ukiyo-e prints had only recently made their way into Western consciousness a few decades earlier, they were already extraordinarily popular with European artists and art lovers alike. Claude Monet, for example, had amassed an impressive collection of woodblock prints, most of which still hangs in his Giverny home today. Given their admiration for Ukiyo-e prints, it is no surprise that Impressionist artists incorporated elements of the art form into their own work. Japanese Influence on Impressionism Everyday Subject Matter Claude Monet, “Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge,” 1899 (Photo: Princeton University Art Museum via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) Impressionist artists are known for their distinctive subject matter, including everyday scenes like depictions of nature and candid portraits. While this approach is quintessentially characteristic of the movement, it actually has roots in Japanese prints. Hokusai, “Under Mannen Bridge at Fukagawa,” 1823 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) Tell-tale title aside, Monet’s iconic collection of Japanese Bridge depictions clearly references Ukiyo-e scenes of everyday life, while Edgar Degas‘ signature series of women at la toilette is undoubtedly inspired by the voyeuristic depictions of bathing women frequently found in Japanese prints. Left: Edgar Degas, “Woman Combing her Hair,” 1885 (Photo: Hermitage via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)Right: Hashiguchi Goyo, “Combing Hair,” 1920 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) Unique Perspective Camille Pissarro, “Boulevard Montmartre,” 1897 (Photo: Hermitage via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) In addition to sharing similar subject matter, Impressionist paintings and Japanese woodblock prints also showcase a unique approach to perspective. Often, the viewer’s vantage point is from above and positioned at a slight angle. Hiroshige, “Sugura street,” 1836 (Photo: Visipix via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) This allows us to see scenes in their entirety, almost as if they are set on a theatrical stage and we are observing from the audience. Other examples feature asymmetrical perspectives and strong diagonal lines. Edgar Degas, “The Rehearsal Onstage,” 1874 (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) Suzuki Harunobu, “Woman Admiring Plum Blossoms at Night,” c. 18th century (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) Flat Compositions Left: Mary Cassatt, “The Letter,” 1890–1891 (Photo: Kathleen via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)Right: Toshikata Mizuno, “After the Bath: Woman of the Kansei Era,” 1893 (Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) While it seems like employing such a fascinating perspective would result in dimensionality, typically, woodblock prints’ compositions are quite flat, with solid planes of color and bold lines taking precedence over realism. Though some Impressionist artists did not follow suit and instead opted for a sense of depth, some, like Mary Cassatt, embraced this aesthetic. When combined with the similarities in subject matter and like-minded approach to perspective, this fascinating flat aesthetic perfectly captures the distinctive look and feel of Japanese woodblock prints. Decorative Color Left: Mary Cassatt, “Woman Bathing,” 1890–1891 (Photo: The Met via Wikimedia Commons via Wikimedia Commons, CC0 1.0 Public domain dedication) Right: Utagawa Hiroshige, “Moonlight View of Tsukuba with Lady on a Balcony,” c. 1850–1856 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) Another characteristic of art influenced by Japanese prints is brilliant color. Impressionist artists employed a decorative color palette in their compositions, oftentimes incorporating patterns and prints to enhance the visual appeal. Left: Edgar Degas, “In the Theater,” c. 1880s (Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)Right: Toyohara Chikanobu, “Evening Bell at Asakusa,” 1888 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public domain) This article has been edited and updated. Related Articles: Library of Congress Makes Over 2,500 Japanese Woodblock Prints Digitally Accessible 220,000+ Japanese Woodblock Prints Available Online in Growing Database Origami: How the Ancient Art of Paper Folding Evolved Over Time and Continues to Inspire Kelly Richman-Abdou Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters. Impressionism: Art and Modernity Margaret SamuInstitute of Fine Arts, New York University October 2004 In 1874, a group of artists called the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, Printmakers, etc. organized an exhibition in Paris that launched the movement called Impressionism. Its founding members included Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro, among others. The group was unified only by its independence from the official annual Salon, for which a jury of artists from the Académie des Beaux-Arts selected artworks and awarded medals. The independent artists, despite their diverse approaches to painting, appeared to contemporaries as a group. While conservative critics panned their work for its unfinished, sketchlike appearance, more progressive writers praised it for its depiction of modern life. Edmond Duranty, for example, in his 1876 essay La Nouvelle Peinture (The New Painting), wrote of their depiction of contemporary subject matter in a suitably innovative style as a revolution in painting. The exhibiting collective avoided choosing a title that would imply a unified movement or school, although some of them subsequently adopted the name by which they would eventually be known, the Impressionists. Their work is recognized today for its modernity, embodied in its rejection of established styles, its incorporation of new technology and ideas, and its depiction of modern life. Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris) exhibited in 1874, gave the Impressionist movement its name when the critic Louis Leroy accused it of being a sketch or “impression,” not a finished painting. It demonstrates the techniques many of the independent artists adopted: short, broken brushstrokes that barely convey forms, pure unblended colors, and an emphasis on the effects of light. Rather than neutral white, grays, and blacks, Impressionists often rendered shadows and highlights in color. The artists’ loose brushwork gives an effect of spontaneity and effortlessness that masks their often carefully constructed compositions, such as in Alfred Sisley’s 1878 Allée of Chestnut Trees (1975.1.211). This seemingly casual style became widely accepted, even in the official Salon, as the new language with which to depict modern life. In addition to their radical technique, the bright colors of Impressionist canvases were shocking for eyes accustomed to the more sober colors of academic painting. Many of the independent artists chose not to apply the thick golden varnish that painters customarily used to tone down their works. The paints themselves were more vivid as well. The nineteenth century saw the development of synthetic pigments for artists’ paints, providing vibrant shades of blue, green, and yellow that painters had never used before. Édouard Manet’s 1874 Boating (29.100.115), for example, features an expanse of the new cerulean blue and synthetic ultramarine. Depicted in a radically cropped, Japanese-inspired composition, the fashionable boater and his companion embody modernity in their form, their subject matter, and the very materials used to paint them. Such images of suburban and rural leisure outside of Paris were a popular subject for the Impressionists, notably Monet and Auguste Renoir. Several of them lived in the country for part or all of the year. New railway lines radiating out from the city made travel so convenient that Parisians virtually flooded into the countryside every weekend. While some of the Impressionists, such as Pissarro, focused on the daily life of local villagers in Pontoise, most preferred to depict the vacationers’ rural pastimes. The boating and bathing establishments that flourished in these regions became favorite motifs. In his 1869 La Grenouillère (29.100.112), for example, Monet’s characteristically loose painting style complements the leisure activities he portrays. Landscapes, which figure prominently in Impressionist art, were also brought up to date with innovative compositions, light effects, and use of color. Monet in particular emphasized the modernization of the landscape by including railways and factories, signs of encroaching industrialization that would have seemed inappropriate to the Barbizon artists of the previous generation. Perhaps the prime site of modernity in the late nineteenth century was the city of Paris itself, renovated between 1853 and 1870 under Emperor Napoleon III. His prefect, Baron Haussmann, laid the plans, tearing down old buildings to create more open space for a cleaner, safer city. Also contributing to its new look was the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), which required reconstructing the parts of the city that had been destroyed. Impressionists such as Pissarro and Gustave Caillebotte enthusiastically painted the renovated city, employing their new style to depict its wide boulevards, public gardens, and grand buildings. While some focused on the cityscapes, others turned their sights to the city’s inhabitants. The Paris population explosion after the Franco-Prussian War gave them a tremendous amount of material for their scenes of urban life. Characteristic of these scenes was the mixing of social classes that took place in public settings. Degas and Caillebotte focused on working people, including singers and dancers, as well as workmen. Others, including Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, depicted the privileged classes. The Impressionists also painted new forms of leisure, including theatrical entertainment (such as Cassatt’s 1878 In the Loge [Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]), cafés, popular concerts, and dances. Taking an approach similar to Naturalist writers such as Émile Zola, the painters of urban scenes depicted fleeting yet typical moments in the lives of characters they observed. Caillebotte’s 1877 Paris Street, Rainy Day (Art Institute, Chicago) exemplifies how these artists abandoned sentimental depictions and explicit narratives, adopting instead a detached, objective view that merely suggests what is going on. The independent collective had a fluid membership over the course of the eight exhibitions it organized between 1874 and 1886, with the number of participating artists ranging from nine to thirty. Pissarro, the eldest, was the only artist who exhibited in all eight shows, while Morisot participated in seven. Ideas for an independent exhibition had been discussed as early as 1867, but the Franco-Prussian War intervened. The painter Frédéric Bazille, who had been leading the efforts, was killed in the war. Subsequent exhibitions were headed by different artists. Philosophical and political differences among the artists led to heated disputes and fractures, causing fluctuations in the contributors. The exhibitions even included the works of more conservative artists who simply refused to submit their work to the Salon jury. Also participating in the independent exhibitions were Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, whose later styles grew out of their early work with the Impressionists. The last of the independent exhibitions in 1886 also saw the beginning of a new phase in avant-garde painting. By this time, few of the participants were working in a recognizably Impressionist manner. Most of the core members were developing new, individual styles that caused ruptures in the group’s tenuous unity. Pissarro promoted the participation of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, in addition to adopting their new technique based on points of pure color, known as Neo-Impressionism. The young Gauguin was making forays into Primitivism. The nascent Symbolist Odilon Redon also contributed, though his style was unlike that of any other participant. Because of the group’s stylistic and philosophical fragmentation, and because of the need for assured income, some of the core members such as Monet and Renoir exhibited in venues where their works were more likely to sell. Its many facets and varied participants make the Impressionist movement difficult to define. Indeed, its life seems as fleeting as the light effects it sought to capture. Even so, Impressionism was a movement of enduring consequence, as its embrace of modernity made it the springboard for later avant-garde art in Europe. Citation Samu, Margaret. “Impressionism: Art and Modernity.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/imml/hd_imml.htm (October 2004) Further Reading Bomford, David, et al. Art in the Making: Impressionism. Exhibition catalogue.. New Haven and London: National Gallery, 1990. Herbert, Robert L. Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. House, John. Monet: Nature into Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986. Moffett, Charles S., et al. The New Painting: Impressionism 1874–1886. San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986. Nochlin, Linda, ed. Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, 1874–1904: Sources and Documents. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966. Rewald, John. The History of Impressionism. Rev. and enl. ed. . New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1961. Tinterow, Gary, and Henri Loyrette. Origins of Impressionism. Exhibition catalogue.. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. By Alastair Sooke11th March 2015 It’s hard to believe that Monet, Degas and Renoir once faced hostility from the art world. Alastair Sooke reveals how one man changed everything. Article continues below Advertisement Few movements in the history of art feel as familiar as Impressionism. Barely a week goes by without Monet and his contemporaries generating headlines for one reason or another. Impressionist paintings attract astronomical prices at auction. Impressionist exhibitions are mainstays at museums because they offer a guaranteed way of drumming up a crowd. Even people with a cursory interest in modern art have heard the story of the notorious show of 1874, when a group of independent French artists staged what would become known as the first Impressionist exhibition away from the official Salon. Surely there is nothing new to say about the movement that launched a thousand tea towels? Actually, perhaps there is. Inventing Impressionism, a new exhibition at the National Gallery in London, offers an ingenious, fresh take on a well-worn subject. Following its opening, one British art critic, Richard Dorment, hailed it as the most significant Impressionist exhibition in the UK for two decades. Pissaro painted The Avenue, a view of the London suburb Sydenham, while in exile during the Franco-Prussian War – it was then that he met Durand-Ruel (National Gallery, London) Filled with masterpieces by Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Renoir, Sisley and Manet, the exhibition tells the story of the far-sighted French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922). During the course of his long career, it is estimated that up to 12,000 Impressionist paintings passed through Durand-Ruel’s hands. According to the exhibition’s argument, which is based on recent research conducted in the Durand-Ruel family archives, Durand-Ruel did not create Impressionism – that, of course, was the achievement of the artists themselves. But he did discover the movement and bring it to universal attention. In other words, he was responsible for branding and promoting Impressionism. Without him, the movement wouldn’t be the popular juggernaut it is today. Birth of a movement So what do we know about this Svengali of modern art? Surprisingly, given his risk-taking taste for the avant-garde, his temperament was conservative. The son of a successful art dealer, he grew up to become a conventional, haute-bourgeois Frenchman. “He was a monarchist and very Catholic, and he valued his probity,” says Christopher Riopelle of the National Gallery, one of the curators of the exhibition, which has already visited Paris and will travel to the Philadelphia Museum of Art this summer. Durand-Ruel first championed Impressionism after meeting Pissaro, and then Monet, who painted London’s Green Park (Green Park in London 1871/Claude Monet) Having followed in his father’s footsteps, Durand-Ruel was interested at first in the generation preceding the Impressionists: the likes of Delacroix and Courbet, as well as Corot, Millet and Rousseau. His conversion to Impressionism occurred in 1870, when he was living in exile in London during the Franco-Prussian War. The French painter Daubigny introduced him to Monet and Pissarro, who were also exiled, and he fell in love with their work at once. He bought several pictures by them, including a panorama of London’s Green Park by Monet and a view of the residential suburb Sydenham by Pissarro, who later wrote, “Without him, we should have died of hunger in London.” Back in Paris by 1872, he spotted two paintings by Édouard Manet, including a stunning still life called The Salmon (1869), in the studio of another artist. On a whim, he bought them both – as well as 21 other pictures that he saw when he visited Manet’s studio later that same month. In that spree alone, he spent 35,000 francs on paintings by Manet – which, in 1872, was an extremely bold and risky thing to do. In fact, his extravagant spending in these early years, when Impressionism as yet had no market to speak of, almost bankrupted him. But he felt sure that his gamble would eventually pay off. Durand-Ruel, seen here in about 1910, organised several high-profile exhibitions of Impressionist works and helped win the movement critical respect (Archives Durand-Ruel & Cie) Making money off Monet In time, it did – thanks largely to various strategies that he concocted in order to build a market for Impressionism. He masterminded the second Impressionist exhibition of 1876 at his own gallery, ensuring that professional standards were employed. Later he inaugurated a series of one-man shows for individual Impressionist artists that helped win them serious attention. He allowed curious visitors to enter his elegant, art-bedecked apartment, which functioned as an unofficial showroom. And he persuaded wealthy Americans to start purchasing Impressionist pictures. “The Americans don’t criticise, they buy,” he said. “As a result, a group of artists who were largely reviled became one of the most popular art movements in the world,” says Riopelle. “This did not just happen. Manipulations had to be done. And one of the prime manipulators was Durand-Ruel.” Perhaps his greatest coup, though, came towards the end of his life. In 1905, at the Grafton Galleries in London, he organised a mammoth exhibition of Impressionism boasting 315 works of art, including 196 from his own collection. In 1872 Durand-Ruel paid 35,000 francs for 23 paintings by Édouard Manet, including the still-life The Salmon (The Salmon 1868/Édouard Manet) With many impressive, large canvases such as Manet’s portrait of Eva Gonzalès (1870) and Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81), it has been described as the greatest exhibition of Impressionist art ever mounted. And even though London’s sluggish collectors didn’t take to it (only 13 sales were recorded, almost exclusively to foreigners), it would have a lasting impact upon perceptions of the movement. “By this point, Durand-Ruel was an old man,” says Riopelle, “and he decided to make a final great statement of what he had done – to write, if you will, the history of Impressionism so far. And by and large the story of Impressionism that we still believe today was the story laid out on those walls in that triumphant exhibition of 1905. In the true sense of the word, Durand-Ruel really did ‘invent’ Impressionism.” Alastair Sooke is art critic of The Daily Telegraph Impressionism – The influence of Photography May 5, 2015kiamaartgallery Edgar Degas, Race Horses, 1883-85 The rise of Impressionism can be seen in part as a response by artists to the newly established medium of photography. In the same way that Japonisme focused on everyday life, photography also influenced the Impressionists’ interest in capturing a ‘snapshot’ of ordinary people doing everyday things. The taking of fixed or still images provided a new medium with which to capture reality, and changed the way people in general, and artists in particular, saw the world, and created new artistic opportunities. Learning from the science of photography, artists developed a range of new painting techniques. And, rather than compete with the ability of the photograph to record ‘ a moment of truth’ the Impressionists, such as Monet, felt free to represent what they saw in an entirely different way – focusing more on light, colour and movement in a way that was not possible with photography. Over time, these subjective observations became much more widely accepted as works of art, although initially they were thought to be ‘sketchy’ or ‘unfinished’. Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise, 1872 Early Photography In 1839, Daguerre’s disclosure of the secret process he used to record an image onto a silvered sheet of copper, which was the first workable and permanent method to achieve this (known as the Daguerreotype), led to the invention of the photograph, which was to become one of the most popular inventions of the century. Daguerre, historic photograph from 1837, two years before he shared his technique By 1849, some 100,000 Parisians* were having their pictures taken every year. (Interestingly, in the same way we use Photoshop today, customers often requested that their photograph be re-touched to hide perceived faults, or to add colour.) Daguerreotypes were unique and non-replicable, but with the introduction of the carte de visite (visiting or calling card) in the 1850s photographic images could be produced cheaply and easily distributed. Cartes de visite were prints, usually, albumen, affixed to a card measuring about 6 x 10cm. This standard format was patented by a French photographer, Andre Adolphe Disderi, in 1854. Through the use of a sliding plate holder and a camera with four lenses, eight negatives could be taken on a single 8″ x 10″ glass plate, which allowed eight prints to be made every time the negative was printed. Cartes de visite were most popular from the 1860s to the 1890s, largely coinciding with Impressionism. Influence on artists Some artists found they lost commissions to paint small intricate portraits in favour of people preferring to have studio photographs taken. However, for others it became an inspiration for new ways of not only composing their artworks but also painting using more experimental techniques. Photographs (as they do today) assisted in the portraiture painting process. Many artists found that they could do away with tedious sittings of models and instead use both shorter sittings, and photographs, to paint portraits. Portable cameras could also be taken outdoors to record landscapes – enabling the painting process to be completed in the studio. In the early stages of camera development, long exposures with a camera were required to capture the image, which created ‘shutter-drag’, allowing for beautiful fluid movement and gracefully blurred selections. Some artists, such as Degas, sought to recreate this effect to soften the overall painting. One of the most famous photographers from the mid 1800s was Nadar (Gaspard Félix Tournachon) who established the most fashionable portrait studio in Paris – it was here that the Impressionists held their first exhibition in 1874. As the medium developed, photographers like Eadweard Muybridge experimented with the camera’s stilled, or stopped, movement. Stopping action was a fascinating new concept. Before photographic stop-action, it was difficult to capture a muscle in a state of tension, or the gait of a horse in mid-step, for example. Edgar Degas Edgar Degas was one Impressionist who was so intrigued with this new ability to capture a moment in time that he also pursued photography as a creative outlet. There are a number of examples of how he used his knowledge of photography in his art, which you can see in his sketches and paintings of race horses. For example, he was amazed that Muybridge’s photos proved that a horse’s feet leave the ground in a rolling sequence, not in the “hobbyhorse” pairs that most artists favoured. Edgar Degas, Before the Race Edgar Degas, Before the Race Edgar Degas, Sketch Edgar Degas, The False Start Edgar Degas, Jockey in Blue on a Chestnut Horse Edgar Degas, The Bolting Horse In the above paintings by Degas you can also see the technique of cropping, that is selecting only part of a subject to be included in the picture plane, allowing for a more intimate connection with the viewer, as it creates the illusion that there is a larger scene, just outside of the viewer’s vision. Cropping became an important compositional technique adopted by many artists. Photography, far from limiting the appeal of paintings, provided artists with new points of view, and encouraged then to translate photographic techniques in their work, enabling them to capture everyday life with a greater sense of vitality and intimacy. * Pierre Schneider, The World of Manet, 1832-1883, Time Life Books, 1968 Top of Form How Did Photography Influence The Impressionists? Photography, Exhibition Announcements, Art History October 12, 2019 Elena Martinique In 1839, a new means of visual representation was announced to a startled world – photography. While photographers themselves spent the ensuing decades experimenting with techniques and debating the nature of this new invention, its impact on modern society proved immense. Today, it might be difficult to appreciate how revolutionary and challenging photography was, but when it first stepped into the scene, the art world quickly took notice. What started as a competition soon became an alliance of vision that changed the way we see forever. It radically changed how artists, particularly the Impressionist painters, looked at the world and depicted reality. The upcoming exhibition at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza examines the repercussions the invention of photography had on the development of the visual arts in the second half of the nineteenth century. Titled The Impressionists and Photography, it brings together 66 oil paintings and works on paper and more than 100 photographs, offering a critical reflection on the affinities and mutual influences between painting and photography, including the debate it sparked among critics and artists. Left: Armand Guillaumin – The Bridge of the Archbishop and the Apse of Notre-Dame, ca. 1880. Oil on canvas. 54 x 65 cm © Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza / Right: Édouard Baldus – Rear view of Notre-Dame, París, 1860-1870. Albumen print 22.9 x 28 cm. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid © Archivo fotográfico. Museo Nacional del Prado A New Way of Looking At the World Following the appearance of the first daguerreotypes in the late 1830s and the subsequent discovery of techniques for making photographic prints on paper, a very close relationship was established between photography and painting. The artificial eye of the camera of photographers such as Gustave Le Gray, Eugène Cuvelier, Henri Le Secq, Olympe Aguado, Charles Marville and Félix Nadar spurred Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas and the young painters of Impressionism Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, Marie Bracquemond, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot and Gustave Caillebotte to devise a new way of looking at the world. As photography evolved from a mere mechanical means of reproducing reality to gaining artistic credibility, it allowed painters a closer examination of light and asymmetrical, cropped spaces, as well as an exploration of spontaneity and visual ambiguity. This relationship was mutual, as the medium of photography became concerned with the materiality of their images and sought methods for making their photographs less precise and more painterly. Painters of Impressionism were keenly aware of the transient nature of reality and, for them, photography seemed to mark a symbolic victory of man over temporality and triggered a revolutionary transformation in their depictions. Left: Camille Pissarro – Boulevard Montmartre, Mardi Gras, 1897. Oil on canvas. 65.1 x 81.3 cm Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Gift of the Armand Hammer Foundation ©The Armand Hammer Collection. / Right: Charles Marville – Boulevard Saint-Germain, 1875-1877. Albumen print from collodion on glass negative. 23,8 x 36,6 cm Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris © Biblioth