Neoclassicism and Romanticism

 


(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th ceytury - Art Map)
 

 





Francois-Andre Vincent

Hubert Robert

Eugene Deveria
 

 
 



Romantic Era

 

 
 




France


 

France, too, produced artists and works in the eighteenth century that seemed to anticipate Romanticism proper, for instance the dramatic seascapes of a Vernet, several of the history paintings of Francois-Andre Vincent (1746-1816), or a few of the depictions of ruins by Hubert Robert (1733-1808).
 

   
 


Francois-Andre Vincent

(b Paris, 30 Dec 1746; d Paris, 3 or 4 Aug 1816). French painter and draughtsman. He was one of the principal innovators in French art of the 1770s and 1780s, in the field of both Neo-classical subjects and themes from national history. Despite the fact that he worked in a variety of styles, his sense of purpose appears to have been coherent at a time of profound change. His stylistic sources lay in the art of Classical antiquity and such masters as Raphael, the great Bolognese painters of the 17th century and Charles Le Brun; yet he also studied reality in a quasi-documentary way. His work, too often confused with that of Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jacques-Louis David or Louis-Léopold Boilly, is of a high standard, even though the completed paintings do not always uphold the promise of energy of his drawings and oil sketches.
 

   
 


Francois-Andre Vincent
Portrait presume de Madame Boyer-Fonfrede et de son fils
1796


 


Francois-Andre Vincent
Belisarius

1776
Musée Fabre, Montpellier


 


Francois-Andre Vincent
The Ploughing Lesson
1798


 


Francois-Andre Vincent
Zeuxis et les filles de Crotone

1789
 


 

 


Francois-Andre Vincent
Henri IV faisant entrer des vivres dans Paris

1783


 














Francois-Andre Vincent
L'Assomption de la Vierge

1771


 


Francois-Andre Vincent
Portrait de la baronne de Chalvet-Souville, née Marie de Broutin
1793


 

 


Francois-Andre Vincent
Portrait de trois hommes
1775

 

 
 


Hubert Robert

(b Paris, 22 May 1733; d Paris, 15 April 1808). French painter, draughtsman, etcher and landscape designer. He was one of the most prolific and engaging landscape painters in 18th-century France. He specialized in architectural scenes in which topographical elements derived from the buildings and monuments of ancient and modern Italy and of France are combined in often fantastic settings or fictitious juxtapositions. The fluid touch and rich impasto employed in his paintings, also shared by his friend Jean-Honoré Fragonard, are matched by the freedom of his numerous red chalk drawings and the few etchings that he is known to have produced.
 

   
 


Hubert Robert
Avenue in a Park
1799

 


Hubert Robert
The Finding of the Laokoon
1773
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond

 


Hubert Robert
Imaginary View of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins
1796
Musée du Louvre, Paris

 

 


Hubert Robert
Italian Park

 


Hubert Robert
The Pont du Gard
1787
Musée du Louvre, Paris
 

   

The writings and novels of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau exerted an enormous influence on European thought. Rousseau argued that with the advance of civilization, humanity had let itself in for continually worsening symptoms of decay and degeneration. His famous cry, "Back to Nature," did not mean returning to man's primitive beginnings, but it did draw fresh attention to everything primitive and archaic. And it basically implied the same thing as the widespread appeal to overcome the alienation of man from nature, an alienation described and decried by Denis Diderot, Enlightenment philosopher and co-editor of the Encyclopedia. It was precisely its emphasis on reason that enabled the French Enlightenment to arrive at new insights into individual psychology on the one hand and nature on the other. Besides advances in empirical science, it helped paved the way for new sensibilities in the arts.
This development in the direction of Romantic attitudes, however, was interrupted in 1789 by the French Revolution. The artists who served it could not, or would not, countenance any journey into the mysterious depths of the individual mind, for it was more important to champion the victorious republican ideals and supply visual propaganda for collective political goals. In terms of content, this painting adopted the ancient Roman catalogue of virtues, and conveyed these in formal terms by means of a rigorously composed neoclassicism and in the medium of history painting. When Napoleon launched into his campaign to vanquish all Europe, teeming history works or allegories continued to be employed to celebrate the triumphs of the commander, and subsequent emperor, and his armies. Although this celebratory intent occasionally led to a sort of romanticizing of the image of Napoleon, the beginnings of French Romanticism shortly after 1800 developed in opposition to the emperor and to the neoclassical, Empire style officially propagated by him.
Chateaubriand and Germaine de Stael were among Napoleon's most outspoken critics. Madame de Staël advocated taking German Romanticism as the model of a universalism that transcended all petty power politics and, in the artistic field, as a way to overcome "anemic" neoclassicism. How difficult this proved to be, however, is shown by the long and successful career of the foremost neoclassicist, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780—1867). On first view, his 1862 painting The Turkish Bath may appear to bear traces of exotic, oriental romance. Yet the extreme precision of its graceful lineatures, the smoothness of the cool surfaces of color, and the formal purism of the whole, would seem to exclude any deeply felt emotion, any tendency to Romanticism in the narrower sense.
The Salon exhibition of 1827 was extolled in France as marking the victory of true Romanticism over neoclassicism. Yet the extent to which the French version differed from those of Germany or England may be seen from the work of its two main protagonists, Gericault and Delacroix. Both were profoundly painterly painters, and both were brilliant geniuses who, like all greats in art history, are by nature difficult to categorize in terms of any one style. And both bypassed the landscape genre so preferred throughout the rest of Europe, and turned instead to the history painting. The pathos of their compositions built on color and light, but unlike early history paintings, theirs often focussed on the nameless hero, the individual involved in fateful events or disastrous circumstances. Especially Delacroix, with his liberated, sensitive paint application, with coloristic pictorial symphonies which largely baffled contemporary audiences, achieved an intensity whose effects were still felt among the Impressionists, and ultimately by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, and Paul Cézanne. Even in his highly dramatic subjects, set in the distant past, Delacroix was not concerned with mere fantasy or theatricality, but solely with human passions, which he believed were the catalyst behind historical developments.
The accusation of empty posing, sentimentality, and pathetic national pride can be aimed with more justification at the history paintings of Eugene Deveria (1805-1865) or Paul Delaroche (1797-1856), which well served the taste of the petty bourgeois masses for "the interesting," for an escape from the drudgery of everyday life. The orientalism which was concurrently the fad in France, as well as the genre of Italian folk scenes, produced in their finest examples a new, painterly transformation of subject matter which bore a certain affinity to the discoveries made in English landscape painting, though the weaker examples did not go beyond a superficial sentimentalism.
 

   
 


Eugene Deveria

(b Paris, 22 April 1805; d Pau, 3 Feb 1865). Painter, brother of Achille Devéria. He was a pupil of Anne-Louis Girodet and Guillaume Lethière but was greatly influenced by his brother. Despite differences of taste and temperament—Eugène had an official career and painted on a grand scale—the brothers remained close until Eugène went to Avignon in 1838. He first exhibited at the Salon of 1824 and had his first success with the Birth of Henry IV (1827; Paris, Louvre). He approached this well-worn subject (made fashionable by the Restoration and usually portrayed in engravings or small-scale works) with unusual panache. The ambitious scale, the crowds of people painstakingly depicted in period costume and the rich colours revealed his desire to raise the subject to the rank of history painting. With Delacroix and Louis Boulanger, Devéria was hailed as a champion of the Romantic movement and the successor to Veronese and Rubens.
 

   

Eugene Deveria
Portrait of Marie-Luche de Selle de Beauchamp

 

 

Eugene Deveria
Scène des Fourberies de Scapin

 

 


Eugene Deveria
Le Christ portant sa croix

 

 


Eugene Deveria
L'Inondation

 

 


Eugene Deveria
La Reine Thomyris d'apres Rubens

 

 

Landscape became a central concern of nineteenth-century French painters only belatedly, but with all the more impact. The School of Barbizon, led by Camille Corot (1796—1875), often populated their gauzily rendered slices of the natural scene with mythological figures, intended to embody both an archaic and a utopianly envisaged unity of man and nature. These were counterimages to touristically accessible, more or less fleetingly viewed scenic attractions, as well as standing in opposition to nature ravaged by economic exploitation and development. Employing the means of plein air, open air or outdoor, painting, the Barbizon landscapes represented more an overture to Impressionism than a form of Romanticism, despite their evocation of the moods and atmospheric changes in nature.
At the same time, French painting was dominated by a sociopolitically oriented Realism in which a distant echo of Romanticism could occasionally be heard, as in Jean-François Millet's (1814—1875) Angelus, which struck contemporary critics as the quintessence of sentimental melodrama. In fact, if a comparison be sought, one finds closer parallels to this peasant family at its evening prayers in the Biedermeier work of Ludwig Richter than in the universal-ism of early Romanticism around 1800. The great Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) cannot be accused of sentimentality, but perhaps it was something of the late Romantic heritage that led him to place at the very center of his grand allegory on his political, cultural, and artistic environment, The Painter's Studio, a moody landscape on which he is just working, watched by a small boy and a nude model, personifications of unspoiled natural life.
 


Gustave Courbet

The Painter's Studio

 

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