Discuss both the (a) Roman and (b) French political contexts expressed in David's The Oath of the Horatii.
The Oath of the Horatii displays extensive French and Roman political contexts. The painting features three brothers from Rome saluting their father who holds three swords (Crow 422). It shows readiness to fight for freedom in the Roman government. The three Horatii brothers in the painting show loyalty to their father and subsequently their country. The French political context was founded on loyalty. King Louis XVI admired the painting and allowed the artist to stay in the Paris Louvre.
How does the painting exemplify Neoclassicism in its artistic qualities of (a) composition, (b) colors, and (c) brushwork?
The painting shows neoclassicism in the garments worn by the characters. The characters wear tunic clothing, which was an ancient roman dressing code. The colors are clear with delineated shading as classical paintings. The clear colors make the painting cerebral and easily understandable. The final evidence of neoclassicism in the painting is the complete absence of brush-strokes (Crow 465). All details in the painting are smooth revealing a non-sensual neoclassical surface just as classical-period paintings.
How does Manet's Luncheon on the Grass discard convention with regard to nudity?
Manet's painting discards convention concerning nudity due to the presence of a naked woman in its foreground (Manet 3). Nudity was a classical subject due to the role of men and women in society. The painting showed a naked woman in the presence of bourgeois males who were fully dressed. The painting deviated from the classical view of women as goddesses and showed them as models who were probably prostitutes. The painting was against all allegorical and mythical precedents and obscene at the eyes of the public. The painting started the modernist reinvention on which most of the contemporary art is based.
What other artistic techniques are considered radically different?
Be sure to discuss his use of (a) brushwork, (b) proportion, and (c) light/dark areas. How does this painting (d) set a course for future modern works?
The painting shows brushwork and even looks incomplete. The scantily dressed woman bathing in the background is disproportional to the other characters and appears larger than them and while floating on the canvas. The foreground is covered in excessively lit areas indicating that artificial lighting was used. The painting is also radically different since it used a large canvas that was commonly used for religious, historical and mythical concepts. The painting is not smooth and works against its subject matter of showing tenderness and flawlessness of the female body (Manet 11). It set the stage for modern works to appeal to diverse audiences both in academic and non-academic manners.
Crow, Thomas. "The Oath Of The Horatii In 1785: Painting and preRevolutionary radicalism in France." Art History 1.4 (1978): 424-471.
Manet, Edouard. Luncheon on the Grass. Universal Color Slide Company, 1998.
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