Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Age of Revolution's formulation of modern artistic thought

Fealty vs. Individuality

The Neoclassical Wall

Ruben's Flemish Baroque was followed by Europe's garishly elaborate Rococo period, much in vogue during the reign of Louis XVI at the outbreak of the French Revolution. Napoleonic France's answer to this visual frivolity was icy cold Neoclassicism, a rigid style of idealized classical figures, usually presented on sparse backgrounds.

Fealty and Revolution - Neoclassicism would square off against emerging Romanticism after Napoleon's departure from power. Jacques-Louis David's stiff depiction of loyalty and obedience in his Oath of the Horatii, 1784 (Louvre, Paris) is in stark contrast with his student Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People of 1830 (Louvre, Paris). Likewise, Romanticism's freely applied brushstrokes and unrestrained passion would be a direct revolt against the subdued, restricted expression of government supported Neoclassicism. 

Endorsed during Napoleon's reign, Neoclassicism would become the establishment, government-supported artwork of 19th century France. The term would also be used to describe the French academic realism of the second half of the century, even though those paintings would generally lack the stiff angular treatment of subjects and surroundings. With the exception of few works, the government supported Paris Salon would exhibit and provide awards to only what it considered "Neoclassical".

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Neoclassicism Revivals -
Historically, the "greater good"
Hasn't always been in the
interest of the individual artist. 
A century and a half later, Napoleonic Neoclassicism would be revived and modified to suit the propaganda needs of Hitler's National Socialist Germany and again in Stalin's Communist-Socialist Russia, becoming what would then be loosely termed Socialist Realism. Picasso would later modify the original, ancient style to his own needs with softer renderings of figures in classical garb.

Today, the rigid nationalized stylization remains very much in use throughout the world for formalized historic renderings, institutional reliefs, and government crests. However, it is most persistent in the stylized renderings on coins and postage stamps.

Romanticism's Presence

When Napoleon's government promoted its artistic views, via Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and followers of the time, Romanticism was already well underway in Europe. Add to this France's subsequent revolts, a late entry to the Industrial Revolution and ongoing class wars, it then appears almost as if by a miracle France would emerge at Romanticism's climax to ignite subsequent schools of the avant-garde.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786 to John Adams "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it's natural manure"[1], he would likely have not imagined this statement to be a foretelling of France's bloody sixty years of revolutions, counter-revolutions, and coups.

To understand 19th century France is to understand its fledgling governments, civil conflicts and class divisions, which all began in the last decade of the previous century and continued on to mid-century. An armed revolt would eventually turn to artistic revolt where creative passions ran high while ideologies remained equally divided.

France's Six Decades of Revolt: 

Romanticism Spreads, 1761-1789
One of the earliest Romantic authors was Scottish Poet James Macpherson, who in 1761 announced the discovery of works by the ancient blind poet Ossian, a Gallic equivalent to Greece’s Homer from antiquity. Macpherson set out to correlate and rewrite his findings, which seemed to lack physical manuscripts and instead consisted of ballads, oral tradition, and Macpherson's somewhat considerable imagination.

Within months of his discovery, Macpherson's publisher released Fingal, and Ancient Epic Poems in Six Books, together with Several Other Poems composed by Ossian, the son of Fingal. The publication proved enormously successful. Over the next two decades, it would be translated into all of Europe's languages. With somewhat of an amusing reoccurrence, each country would embrace its own translation, discard the Gallic sourcing and instead assume national identity for Ossian's tales. Such was the enthusiasm with which the poems were received and the romantic nationalism implied by the verse.

Amongst Macpherson's early admirers was the French "Free-will" philosopher Denis Diderot, the Enlightenment Age author Voltaire, an aspiring Walter Scott, revolutionary activist Thomas Jefferson and a young, but still growing in influence, General Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon was particularly fond of an Italian translation by Melchoire Cesarotti [2], then famous for his translations of Homer's work.

Romanticism and Revolution, 1789-1799

Birth of Europe's Romanticism

Romanticism introduced boundless passion, romance and even pain to the arts, providing a somewhat revolutionary departure from restrained classical tradition. It would begin in literature and spread like creative fire across all the arts. Romantic authors would force passions to the brink, revealing ecstasy and brutal darkness in a fashion hitherto considered vulgar.

The supernatural and psychosis were not off limits and would often blend with romance and heroism to make uniquely embellished tales of war, imprisonment, death and unrequited love into contemporary sensations. Art forms newly revised to this thinking would often time involve current political issues to plant seeds of revolution. An intellectual love affair shared publically, Romanticism would eventually embrace the revolutionary spirit of America's colonial revolt as well as the epic class struggle destined to become the French Revolution.

Some of the best-known Romantic authors would be Lord ByronJohann Wolfgang von Goethe, Water Scott, Jane Austen and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Gothic Romantic Fiction would provide groundbreaking authors of horror and science fiction, including Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley. Also of note is Shelley's novel of a monster constructed from dead body parts entitled Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. Of note is the title's use of the word "Modern". Romanticism marked the birth of modern artistic thought.

From Enlightenment to Revolution

By the turn of the 19th century, the French Revolution of 1789 through 1799 had been halted unresolved after a bloody decade, when Napoleon Bonaparte took power during the contrived Coup d'etat de Brumaire, a coup within a coup. A new age had arrived and Romanticism, which was then sweeping Europe, had begun and proceeded while the country was preoccupied with civil conflict and continental war, all but passing France by.

Napoleonic France, 1799-1814

Initial French Romantic Effort

Previous to becoming emperor and shortly after installing himself as France's First Consul, Napoleon took up summer residence in the Château de Malmaison. During its subsequent renovation, two epic canvases were commissioned by his wife Joséphine to adorn the walls. Aware of Napoleon's interest in Macpherson's poems, one was to be completed by the artist François Pascal Simon Gérard and titled Ossian Evoking Ghosts on the Edge of the Lora. The painting was completed in what was by then the government endorsed, ridged Neoclassicism style, with its enamel-like paint finish. This work was later lost at sea in route to the King of Sweden after the emperor's departure.

The second painting is of note. Entitled Ossian Receiving the Ghosts of the French Heroes (1801) by the artist Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson or just "Girodet". Aside from being overly sentimental and a tad gaudy, the work was unconventional in both its loose painting technique and unbridled expressiveness of motion, quite the opposite of the conservative, Neoclassical standard of the day. However, still absent was the concept of the individual. It would take Géricault and later Delacroix, influenced by the efforts of other European romantic artists, to refine and perfect what eventually became uniquely French Romanticism.


Upon seeing the Girodet's painting, Jacques-Louis David, the preeminent French painter of the era and the artist's teacher, was horrified, stating, "Either Girodet is mad or I no longer know anything of the art of painting"[3]. French Romantic painting had been born, a style of painting to represent both a departure and attack on the establishment art of Neoclassicism. Nevertheless, Napoleon expressed no displeasure. Later, after his defeat at Waterloo in 1812, he would return to Château de Malmaison, seeking refuge until his forced abdication. The painting remained in place after his departure.

While France Fought

Click to enlarge

While France Fought - Europe was
From 1789 until after Napoleon's departure in 1815, France had been self-absorbed. This had subsequently forestalled her entry into mainstream Romanticism. Meanwhile, in Spain, romantic painter Francisco Goya had already completed his emotionally charged painting of the Napoleonic slaughter entitled The Third of May 1808. His controversial etching series The Disasters of War had been completed in 1815, even before Napoleon's final exit. English artists William Blake, JMW Turner and John Constable were, by then, all established English romanticists.

In Germany, Beethoven, Europe's vanguard Romantic composer, had published and performed his Eighth Symphony a year earlier and was now approaching his Ninth and final symphony as well as his late quartets. The younger Franz Schubert was maturing rapidly and, with little more than a decade remaining to him, was entering his most mature period. Goethe had published Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy seven years earlier and was at work on Faust: The Second Part of the Tragedy. Romantic poet Friedrich Schiller had been dead for a decade and Beethoven would soon consider his poem An die Freude (Ode to Joy), written a full thirty years earlier to be the verse for his Ninth Symphony, which remains today the pinnacle of German Romantic music.

Once Napoleon was dethroned, France would return to a monarchy but this time a Constitutional Monarchy that would prove unsatisfactory to the bourgeoisie and lower class. Discontent and growing civil unrest would follow while France slowly began to build up her railroads, banking and manufacturing to a point where she could eventually participate in Europe's, by then, fully developed Industrial Revolution. Nevertheless, when Romanticism would take hold in France it would be uniquely French and free of Neoclassical influences.

French Romanticism Arrives, 1814-1819

Passion and Motion

After Girodet's painting, perhaps because of David's criticism and the power he wielded, there was no further pursuit of romanticized treatment at that time. More than a decade would pass before another French instance would occur and that would be through the efforts of painter Théodore Géricault (1791-1824).

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Géricault's The Charging Chasseur,
of 1812, considered by many to be
France's first deliberate attempt at
Many art historians today consider Géricault's The Charging Chasseur, of 1812, to be the first conscious attempt at French Romanticism, as it depicts a wild-eyed horse veering forward into the fray of battle, while its mounted Chasseur (light-cavalry soldier) looks pensively towards his rear as if to eye progressive carnage. The overall impression is movement, untypical of equestrian portraits. Moreover, the rider is an ignoble cavalryman, a romanticized individual painted in a loose style.

Overall, the painting was warmly received and in 1812, the 21-year-old artist had the work accepted for exhibition in the Paris Salon. However, subsequent works by Géricault came under attack from the Neoclassicists who maintained considerable influence within the Salon, the presentation of awards and referred purchase of the works. Frustrated, Géricault joined the Army for a brief period. Upon exiting, he traveled to Italy. There he continued to paint horses and attempted larger works, all the while being influenced by Michelangelo's unique interpretations of human form, which would have considerable bearing on his future work.

French Romanticism Matures, 1819-1825

The Raft

Between the years 1818 and 1819, Géricault painted his most ambitious work, The Raft of the Medusa. More than 16 x 23 feet, in life-size scale, the painting depicts a national scandal, where the captain of the shipwrecked "Medusa" abandons both crew and passengers to die at sea. Those who continue, survive only after cannibalizing the remains of fellow passengers.

The work dramatizes man's passionate struggle with nature while magnifying the captain's desertion, typical of the self-serving attitudes of authority and industry of the day. The viewer can feel the waves and the sea breeze filling the makeshift sail as well as the windblown article of clothing one hoisted survivor waves to signal a distant ship.

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Géricault: Raft of the Medusa, 1819 (Louvre, Paris 193" x 282") - Today the painting marks a clear milestone for Romanticism. One can clearly identify Michelangelo's figurative influence in the work, especially that of his Last Judgment. The highly developed dual pyramid composition would have been enviable from a Neoclassical standpoint. However, there is also the grotesque, present-day subject matter with its milestone depiction of human corpses, a passion for rescue, for life, and above all, dynamic forward motion.


Shortly after the completion of The Raft, Géricault suffered a nervous breakdown. After a partial recovery, he sailed to London to exhibit the painting. Having found no buyers for the enormous work, he did so at great personal expense. Upon his return to France, he took up the task of painting ten portraits of mad patients for Étienne-Jean Georget, the head physician at Salpêtrière's Asylum in Paris. Georget had likely treated Géricault during his nervous collapse that followed The Raft. These portraits are some of the most unusual paintings to emerge from French Romanticism. As an artistic movement, all of Romanticism is marked by extreme emotional depictions. These passionate, introspective portraits venture beyond the norm and into the outer fringes of psychosis, a painting concept unimaginable a generation earlier.

Only five of these paintings have managed to survive until today. One subtle yet engaging work amongst them is his Woman Suffering from Obsessive Envy (The Hyena) painted in 1822. As incisive as any Rembrandt portrait, Géricault captures the afflicted woman's mental state or as Georget wrote: "...the anxious patient pleads, glancing sideways". Having suffered his own mental collapse before the commission, Géricault's personal empathy would have no doubt provided him an elevated level of observation. Beautifully painted with visible brushwork, these works are both emotional and brooding with a limited, if not strained, an element of tension and pending motion, communicated with the subject's eyes glancing away and to the side.

Birth of "Avant-garde", 1825
During the Napoleonic wars, the term "avant-garde", meaning forward troop movement or "advance guard", became popularized by French newspapers depicting ongoing military campaigns. In one fatal instance, Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo resulted when an Austrian avant-garde brigade, identifying themselves as the Black Brunswickers, broke through his lines. Subsequently, France, a country that would continue in intermittent armed conflict until mid-century, developed a keen affinity towards the term "avant-garde".

French mathematician and social reformer Olinde Rodriques would, in his 1825 essay entitled The Artist, the Scientist and the Industrialist (L'artiste, le savant et l'industriel), repurposed the phrase to mean forward thinking artwork. Rodrigues argued that artists "...serve as (society's) avant-garde" and that "the power of the arts is indeed the most immediate and fastest way" to communicate social, political, and economic reform (translated in Matei Calinescu,"[4] The Five Faces of Modernity, Duke University Press, 1987). Afterwards, the term "avant-garde" was embraced by Paris artists willing to experiment. Today, it remains a label for revolutionary aesthetic doctrines.

High French Romanticism, 1825-1848

Taking Up the Standard

Géricault's career was cut short by poor health and an early demise in January of 1824. Therefore, comparing French Romanticism to later art movements, the individual efforts of Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) appear to be disproportionately significance. For example, there would be a small army of Impressionists, Post-Impressionist, Expressionists, etc. Nevertheless, Delacroix's mostly individual effort succeeded in an almost complete overturning of France's Neoclassicists. His ability was certainly vital, but even more significant was Neoclassicism's tiresome content and style when compared to the vitality of Europe's art output during that time.

Additional factors helped Delacroix progress further than another artist. Foremost was his political connections. In the 19th century France, politics, and arts were closely intertwined. The Paris Salon and the government would collaborate to establish art awards, purchase artwork, establish painting or sculpture commissions and even approve entries to Salon exhibitions. In short, establishment approval and support was essential to any professional art career.

Romanticism Come of Age

Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was born in 1798 into a politically prominent Parisian family which included three older siblings, the youngest of which was twelve years his senior. Delacroix's father was Charles-François Delacroix, a French statesman who became Minister of Foreign Affairs under the revolutionary French Directory. Charles-François was 57 when his youngest child, Eugène, was born. He would die when the young Delacroix was only 7 years of age.

Upon the death of Delacroix’s father, family friend Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord would replace him in office. Talleyrand was close to the Delacroix family and continued to care for the boy like a father throughout his political career, a career that would eventually elevate him to the position of Prime Minister of France. His political reputation was such that the name "Talleyrand" is still employed today to describe a crafty or cynically diplomatic individual.

Delacroix's mother died when he was only 16. With his older siblings grown, married or enlisted, an even closer relationship developed between the young boy and Minister Talleyrand. Having friends in high places was key to any success in 19th century France. This was especially true in the arts since the Paris Salon depended so heavily on government support. Nevertheless, there were other factors to Delacroix's advantage, extraordinary talent not being the least.

The young artist was fond of the works of Peter Paul Rubens and the Italian Renaissance master Raphael, both of whom were held in high-esteem by the Neoclassicists of the day. Subsequently, when early works, entitled The Virgin of the Harvest (1819) and The Virgin of the Sacred Heart (1821) clearly displayed those influences, endorsement, and commissions were readily forthcoming. Lastly, Delacroix studied, amongst others, under Jacques-Louis David, the preeminent Neoclassical painter of the day. That alone would open doors within Paris' tightly knit art circles.

One Vision Evolves

The 1822 Salon exhibition would include Delacroix's first major work, The Barque of Dante (pronounced "bark", a small three-masted sailing vessel). Géricault's painting of the Raft, which Delacroix had experienced first hand three years earlier, had been a vital influence. Unlike the Raft, which is about a present-day scandal with political overtones, the subject of The Barque is a classical depiction from Dante Alighieri's epic poem Divina Commedia, a suitable subject for even an academic Neoclassicist painter. However, its vigorously applied paint and use of brooding colors communicates considerable levels of passion and implied movement. Nevertheless, in a direct comparison, The Raft, produced three years earlier, was more modern in concept and subsequently far more Romantic in artistic character.

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Delacroix: The Barque of Dante, 1822 (Louvre, Paris, 74" x 95") - Roughly 6' x 8', the handling, colors and use of anatomy are consistent with Géricault's earlier Raft. However, Delacroix still holds on to his master David's classical subject matter. Nevertheless, the brushwork, passionate mood and the craft's turbulence, clearly exclaims Delacroix's inclination towards romanticism.

Expressing Tragedy

The year of 1824 would open with the premature death of Géricault in January, followed by Lord Byron's during a mercenary campaign in Greece a few months later, losing for Delacroix his two greatest ongoing influences.

Consequently, Delacroix's next work would be the somber, yet chilling Massacre of Chois. Sourced from the news of the day, the canvas depicts the pending slaughter of Greek civilians by Ottoman forces in the Greek town of Chios. Delacroix's subject matter and composition structure draw's influences from The Raft of the Medusa. Delacroix was no doubt moved by Lord Byron's heroic efforts to intervene and personally provide military support for the Greek revolutionary uprising against Ottoman forces and his subsequent death during the process.

The Massacre of Chois, like The Raft, was a large (13.5' x 11.5'), life-size depiction of a mortal struggle intended to shock viewing audiences. The frightened and dying are accented by an infant's attempts to suckle its dead or dying mother's breast. Instead of a ship offering hope in the distance, a battle confirms the pending desperate outcome for the huddled civilians. The stark sky enforces the painting's bleak account. As a political statement, it would rival Francisco Goya's painting The Third of May 1808, a decade earlier and Guernica by Picasso, a century later.

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Delacroix: Greece on the Ruins of
1826, (Musée des

Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, 82" x 58") -
A distressed woman representing
Greece stands amidst rubble with
outstretched arms, bearing her breast
as if to implore assistance from the
painting's European audience. An
incredibly balanced work, beautifully
executed with visible brushwork, the
painting displays Delacroix's skill at
its peak. The painting is in many
ways a precursor to Delacroix's
Liberty Leading the People.
The Greek war of Independence (1821-1832) would continue to make headlines in France while nurturing Delacroix's own revolutionary spirit. In 1826, two years after The Massacre, he would paint Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi.

An incredible piece of romantic imagery, Delacroix reverts to influences from his earlier religious works. Here, the Virgin is replaced with a female figure symbolizing a saddened but defiant Greece, with exclamatory, outstretched arms, amid the aftermath of Missolonghi. To add to the horror, a gruesome arm of a crushed Greek appears extended from the rubble. The movement of the background sky and defiant Moorish figure in the distance indicates disaster still to follow. The painting is masterly executed with, which by then was, Delacroix's fully developed painting style.

Exotic Romanticism

Death of Sardanapalus, painted in 1827, remains today one of Delacroix's most discussed and exotic paintings. It reflects the artist's growing fascination with Middle Eastern culture and garb. It was directly influenced by Byron's play Sardanapalus, published in 1821. The work is an extreme example of the romantic period's exaggerated pension for the mysterious and shocking.

Passionately painted with a rich palette, the last Assyrian king lies reflective and detached, contemplating his own pending suicide. Delacroix describes the scene: "The rebels besieged him in his palace ...Lying on a superb bed, upon an immense pyre, Sardanapalus give the order to his eunuchs and palace officials to cut the throats of his wives, his pages, even his horse and his favorite dogs: nothing that served his pleasures should survive him."[5]

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Delacroix: Death of Sardanapalus, 1827, (Louvre, Paris 145" x 195"), is a large exotic canvas with brutal and passionate subject matter. The viewer's eyes are directed towards a concubine prostrating herself towards the doomed monarch while the foreground is dominated by the throat cutting execution of another. Also in the left foreground is a Moorish figure pulling a terrified horse towards its doom. A diagonal eye-movement of the viewer is obtained by a page to the far right gesturing towards the gaze of his now indifferent master.

Revolutionary Spirit

By 1830, Delacroix had reached the peak of his accumulated skills. That year would witness France's three-day uprising, which became known as the July Revolution. Nevertheless, it would only succeed in replacing one monarch with another. To commemorate the revolt, Delacroix painted Liberty Leading the People, which would mark the climax of French Romantic painting. The work portrays Marianne, Goddess of Liberty, holding a flag in one hand and a bayoneted musket in the other as she leads the citizens of Paris forward over the bodies of fallen comrades.

Exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1831, Liberty was purchased by the government of France the same year. However, being considered too inflammatory, it was returned to the artist after the June Rebellion of 1832. Delacroix had it removed to his aunt's attic until after the Republic was finally restored in The Revolt of 1848.

Liberty would be one of Delacroix's largest canvases, painted at a time when he had established himself as the preeminent painter of the Romantic School of French painting. He describes his work as "A modern subject ...a barricade" adding "...if I haven't fought for my country at least I'll paint for her"[6], words which would directly reflect Olinde Rodrigues' 1825 repurposing of the phrase "avant-garde".

The painting's subjects, composition, and handling provides a combined vitality, promoting an illusion of brutal reality and motion, so different from the rigid, static style of Jacques-Louis David, France's earlier preeminent artist, and Delacroix’s teacher.

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Delacroix: Liberty Leads the People, 1830 (Louvre-Lens 102.4" x 128') - All the elements of Romantic literature, music, and visual arts are brought together on this one canvas - liberty, heroism, pain, horror, death, and comradery, in a passionate struggle. The painting technique differs dramatically from the Neoclassicists in that the paint is applied with broad visible brushstrokes to emphasize drama within the composition.


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Delacroix: Fanatics of Tangier, 1838
(Minneapolis Institute of Arts 37.5" x 50.5") -
Less a developed composition and more a
chaotic scene snapshot, this painting portrays
an ecstatic ritual religious celebration by Sufi
Muslims. Here, Dervishes are depicted
ascending into their traditional ritual dance
known as Sufi Whirling, sometimes referred
to as "Whirling Dervishes".
Still pursuing an interest in Middle Eastern culture and attire, which had begun almost a decade earlier with The Massacre of Chios, appearing again in Death of Sardanapalus, Delacroix would travel to North Africa in 1832. While there he would produce more than 100 paintings and drawings depicting the lifestyle of Arabs, once remarking, "The Greeks and Romans are here at my door in the Arabs who wrap themselves in white blankets and look like Cato or Brutus..."[7].

Depicting a zealous religious celebration, Fanatics marks a period of Delacroix's career often referred to as Orientalism[8] by art historians. For a number of years, the artist would devote himself to the study and depiction of Middle Eastern garb and customs of North Africa's Muslim Arabs.

Unlike the participating youth marching next to Marianne in Liberty, here a small child in the foreground runs from the developing crescendo. Delacroix's portrays the scene with foreign fascination, cataloging its behavior and garb. Notice too, how the tricolor flag of Liberty is replaced with an Islamic green flag of paradise, as though to emphasize acute differences in cultural priorities.


Foundations for the Approaching Avant-garde

French Romanticism would slowly wind down during the final years of Delacroix's career, while academicians and the establishment would resist the next generation of the avant-garde. Influenced by English painters JMW Turner and John Constable and supported by Delacroix, Jeane-Baptiste-Camille Corot would create a new highly influential, alla-prima approach to French landscaping.

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Corot: The Bridge at Narni, 1826 Louvre,
Paris - Influenced by the works of John
Constable, Corot would offer a new free-form
approach to subject and composition, which
would greatly influence the later
Corot's canvases would be unconventional in composition and paint handling. He would create uncontrived portraits of nature, free of any classical conventions, composition paradigms or ideological agendas. Still poetic, the vision was a progression of influences from the earlier romantic painter, John Constable, who together with JMW Turner had influenced Parisian artists during a 1824 exhibit at the Paris Salon. Corot would advance a vision of light and atmosphere with broad alla-prima brushstrokes. Though Corot would continue to seek Salon approval, the products of his labors would influence new schools of anti-Salon painting, which would then depart from establishment art.

The outspoken Gustave Courbet would also bridge Romanticism towards a new stark, yet weighty realism. He would portray real-life people in contemporary settings, elevating the common human condition, minus heroic motivations. Instead of portrayals of revolt, Courbet would revolt with portrayals of the individual performing common deeds, offering them as a rebuke to contemporary attempts by Paris' academia for over-embellishing beauty at the cost of individuality.

Civil uprisings in Germany, Italy and again France in 1848 would once again embroil the common masses and force a broader new age of individuality and independent thinking. Subsequently, a new generation of revolutionary, avant-garde artists, including Charles-François Daubigny, Jean-François Millet, Théodore Rousseau, amongst others, would relocate to Barbizon, France to form the Barbizon school. Embracing Corot's landscape style as well as Courbet's spirit of individual ennoblement, Barbizon painters would depict pastoral scenes to glorify the countryside and the common peasant. France's public tastes would change as well, choosing for themselves what to like, instead of what was exhibited as government-sanctioned art.

The visual arts in France would continue to evolve until diametrically opposed artistic ideologies would force a final confrontation between the Impressionists and the Paris art establishment. After a considerable struggle and numerous visual innovations, the avant-garde movement foretold by mathematician and social reformer Olinde Rodrigues in 1825, would finally occur.

NEXT: Proto-Impressionism: The Seeds of Modern Art


1. PTJ 12:356-7. The tree of liberty quotation: Letterpress copy at the Library of Congress.
2. Thiesse, Anna-Marie, La creation des identites nationales. Europe XVIII-XX siècle, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1999, p. 52. ISBN 2020342472.
3. Honour, 184–190, 187 quoted
4. Calinescu, Matei (1987). The Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism. Duke University Press.
5. The Cambridge Companion to Baudelaire, edited by Rosemary Lloyd, p133, Cambridge University Press
6. Letter from Eugene Delacroix to his brother, dated October 12, 1830
7. Wellington, page xv.
8. Barthélémy Jober, Delacroix, page 140

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