Published on September 30, 2008
Chapter 20 Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries Neoclassicism Romanticism Photography Realism Impressionism Post-Impressionism Symbolism William Bouguereau, Cupidon, 1875
Neoclassicism Led by Jacques Louis David, was a reaction to the frivolous style of the French Rococo. David and his followers represented the ideals of the French Revolution and they desired an art form which was dignified and reflected their serious concerns. Opposing the flowery and decorative compositions of the Rococo, their work stresses rationality and clearly delineated forms. The Death of Marat is a good example that portrays a martyred leader of the Revolution killed in his bathtub. Jacques Louis David, The Death of Marat, 1793 There were three basic styles of art that held sway throughout the 19th century.
Jacques-Louis David, Oath of the Horatii, 1784 Geometric composition provides strong contrast to the softness of Roccco. The columns in the background give the design strength. The women seem to be overcome with emotion unable to participate reflecting what was commonly believed at the time that women were unfit for public life. Women were excluded from most professions and especially in the art world because nude models were used. This painting has the quality of classical Greco-Roman relief sculpture with strong side lighting emphasizing the figures in the foreground, even the folds of fabric look more like carved marble than cloth.
Ingres was one of David's followers and his paintings have the clearly delineated forms of the classical style of David, but a less serious story to tell. The woman is a harem girl or concubine. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, La Odalisque , 1814
Another style of the 19th century is known as Romanticism. Those who followed this trend felt that portrayal of emotion was more important than rationality. They generally preferred a more dramatic and painterly approach. Politically, they are aligned with the counter-revolution, led against Napoleon's despotic rule. Delacroix symbolizes the battle with an allegorical figure of Victory leading the revolutionaries through the battlefield. Romanticism Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830
Goya's painting portrays a historical event of Napoleon's soldiers killing citizens in the occupies territories of Spain. The dramatic gesture of the spotlighted man is one begging for mercy, but the spilled blood of others tells you what will be his fate. Francisco Goya (Spanish), The Third of May, 1808 (1814)
The realists were opposed to the often mythological character of many Neoclassical and Romantic artworks. Their basic philosophy is that one should paint what one sees with their own eyes and leave any mythological or overly dramatic content out of the picture. It is difficult to understand this concept if you think of realism only in terms of the artist's ability to portray a believable image. The "reality" is more a matter of concept. A wounded man, for example, is something one might actually see. A bare-breasted woman charging across a battlefield is not. Realism Gustave Courbet (French), Wounded Man, 1844
The Rest at Harvest looks like a fairly straight-forward, realistic image. Other works by the same artists, however, portray mythological subjects. There are no clear cut lines between the three styles and many artists of the century are difficult to categorize into one specific style. William Adolfe Bouguereau (French), Rest at Harvest, 1865
William Adolfe Bouguereau The Spinner, 1853 Cupidon, 1875 Evening Mood, 1882
John William Waterhouse The Lady of Shallot, 1888 The Magic Circle, 1886 The Sorceress, 1913
Rosa Bonheur Specialized in painting rural scenes with animals. In this painting “the Horse Fair” (1853-55) she captures the energy of the horses. Many scholars believe that the figure on horseback in the blue green coat near the center of the painting is a portrait of Rosa in men’s clothing. It was one of several unconventional personal characteristics that she adopted in order to help her career.
The Raft of the Medusa portrays a shipwreck in which the crew took the lifeboats to safety, leaving the passengers to create their own raft. It was a tragic event in which many of the passengers died. Gericault's painting depicts the last survivors in writhing poses as they spot a ship in the distant horizon. Though it portrays an actual event, the artist was not there to witness it and his composition dramatizes its tragedy by including some of the dead who would have actually been thrown off the raft. In Contrast - Romantic vs. Realist Theodore Gericault (French), The Raft of the Medusa, 1819
Eakins, by contrast, paints a scene which he witnesses with his own eyes. His mastery as a painter lies in his ability to capture only that which can be perceived with his own senses and the story is a simple sporting event. Eakins was also a pioneer of the photographic medium and often used photographs to aid his paintings. Thomas Eakins (British), Max Schmidt in a Single Scull
Two important American portrait painters were Sargent and Whistler. They would both be termed realists, though Whistler did do some landscape compositions which were almost J.W. Turner's explosive landscapes and seascapes can probably be described as romantic, for they always focus on stormy compositions. He painted with a loose brushstroke, which will also be an inspiration to the Impressionists. Above, John Singer Sargent (American), Madame X Middle, James Whistler (American) Symphony in White, 1862 J.W. Turner (British), The Slave Ship, 1840
Winslow Homer, an American, is probably best categorized as a realist, for he painted only what he actually observed. He is probably best known for his seascapes, but also painted children and other subjects. He is a master of the watercolor medium. Winslow Homer The New Novel (detail), 1877
Sir John Everett Millais, a British artist, has a realistic style, but the subjects are often of a somewhat romantic nature. For example, Ophelia (1851-52) has a literary reference to a play by Shakespeare, since she was Hamlet's girlfriend who commits suicide. This painting of her dead body floating down a brook, is both beautiful and haunting.
Dante Gabriel Rosetti was the leader of an art movement called the Pre-Raphaelites. This style might be considered a variant of Romanticism, for it favors subjects of mythological and literary subjects. They preferred symbolic representations with a certain poetic appeal. Dante Gabriel Rosetti (British) La Ghirlandata, 1873
Edward Burne-Jones was another prominent member of the Pre-Raphaelite movement who favored allegorical and poetic subjects. Edward Burne-Jones (British) The Garden of Hesperides, 1870-77
Landscape painting is also very popular during the 19th century and there are small schools of painters who work in specific regions. The Hudson River Painters are a group who concentrated on painting scenes west of the Hudson River. These are generally done on huge canvases. Though realistic in one sense, they also have a grandiose effect, and they preferred dramatic lighting conditions. Below, Frederick Church (American) Catopaxi, 1862 Albert Bierstadt (German-born American) Looking Down the Yosemite Valley, 1865
Along with a growing interest in landscape, artists portrayed intimate scenes from nature. Audubon is probably the most famous illustrator of animals in America, especially known for his hundreds of representations of birds. Martin Heade is also well-known for his exotic images of birds and plants which he observed in South America. John James Audubon (American) White Gerfalcons Martin Heade (American) Cattelyn Orchid and Brazilian Hummingbirds, 1871
Henri Rousseau, a French painter, is in yet another category altogether. Rousseau was a self-taught artist and the romantic element of these works is that they focus much more on the inner life of the imagination than they do on anything which can be seen by one's outward eyes. The psychological and fantastic nature of this Rousseau's "naively inspired" works will be of influence to a 20th century movement called Surrealism. The Dream, 1910 Sleeping Gypsy, 1887
Another 19th century artist who will be influential in the 20th century is Eduard Manet. His lack of reliance on mythological or literary subjects places him as a realist. His Luncheon on the Grass (1863) was scandalous during its time, not because the woman is nude, but because she has no specific reason to be so. A nude woman, even in the presence of clothed men, is not unprecedented. What is unusual, however, is that she is not portraying a mythological subject. She was recognized as a woman within Parisian society, adding to its controversy. In addition, Manet's manner of painting was more sketchy and flat than those of his contemporaries. This manner of more spontaneous painting as well as his focus on subjects of everyday life such as the girl at the bar will greatly influence the Impressionists. Bar at the Folies-Bergere, 1881-2
A Brief History of Photography We owe the name "Photography" to Sir John Herschel, who first used the term in 1839, the year the photographic process became public. The innovations which would lead to the development of photography existed long before the first photograph. The camera obscura had been in existence for at least four hundred years, but its use was limited to its purpose as an aid to drawing. It was discovered that if a room was completely darkened, with a single hole in one wall, an inverted image would be seen on the opposite wall. A person inside of the room could then trace this image, which was upside-down. The earliest record of the uses of a camera obscura is found in the writings of Leonardo da Vinci, who may have used it to understanding perspective. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a table-top model was developed. By adding a focused lens and a mirror, it was possible for a person outside of the box to trace the image which was reflected through it.
It was a French man, Nicephore Niepce (pronounced Nee-ps) who produced the first photograph in 1827. By using chemicals on a metal plate, placed inside of a camera obscura, he was able to record an obscure image of the view outside of his window. He called his process "heliography". The image is difficult to decipher, but there is a building on the left, a tree, and a barn immediately in front. The exposure lasted eight hours, so the sun had time to move from east to west, appearing to shine on both sides of the building.
Daguerre (pronounced Dagair) most famous for photography regularly used a camera obscura as an aid to painting in perspective 1826 learned of the work of Niepce 1829 signed a partnership with Niepce reduced the exposure time to thirty minutes 1837 discovered a chemical process which would permanently fix the image invented new process he called a Daguerreotype Drawbacks - length of the exposure time ruled out portraiture the image was laterally reversed image was very fragile was a "once only" system because it was fixed to metal
Pioneers of Motion Photography One of the greatest pioneers of motion photography was Eadweard Muybridge . Muybridge's main claim to fame was his exhaustive study of movement of both animals and humans. The story goes that an owner of race horses bet a friend that when a horse gallops all four feet are, at one point, off the ground simultaneously. Using twenty four cameras, Muybridge was able to photograph a horse galloping, each triggered off by the breaking of a trip-wire on the course. In the 2nd and 3rd frame of the photograph, you can see that the horse-owner was right.
Photography As A Document of the Times Lewis Hine was hired to research child labor in the early 20th century, when the practice was common. His photographs of children working in factories, on railroads, and other dangerous working environments brought greater awareness to this problem. Soon after his photographs were published, child labor laws went into effect. Child in Spinning Mill 1908 Boy in Glass Factory 1908
Votes for Women is a staged photo, where men are making fun of the women's movement's efforts to establish rights for women. Below, The explosion of the German airship The Hindenburg was perhaps the first disaster to be thoroughly documented in photographs.
When the allies marched into the Nazi Germany in 1945, they were shocked to discover the living conditions of the prisoners in the concentration camps. Though this is not one of the more devastating photographs compared to those of stacked human bodies, it is certainly a compelling image. Margaret Bourke-White, No Turning Away 1945 Another disaster of the 1930s was the Great Depression. Dorothea Lange was commissioned to create a portfolio of photographs documenting the migrant farm workers in California. Her famous image, Migrant Mother 1936, captures the despair of the times.
Most people embraced this new technology of the camera with great enthusiasm. A few religious zealots, however, claimed that it was the work of the devil. Many artists who had trained for years in the techniques of portrait painting also found it a threat to their livelihood. Some painters dubbed the new invention "the foe-to-graphic art." A number of artists turned to photography for their livelihood, while others cashed in on the fact that the images were in monochrome and began coloring them. Some painters also used photography to assist them in painting, some of these artists were Gauguin, Cezanne, Courbet, Lautrec, Delacroix and Degas. Photography would eventually change the purpose of painting from one which focused on outward facts of reality to more emphasis on personal vision. Civil war field camera, at right
Impressionism A painting movement of sometimes varying styles which began in mid-19th century France, includes such artists as Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Morisot, Cezanne in his early years, and the American painter, Mary Cassatt. The group practiced plein air painting, working from life mostly out-of-doors, wanting to capture modern life in a spontaneous, direct manner. The Impressionists in general are known for painting out of doors in a direct and painterly manner. Impressionism also included breaking up the picture surface into small dabs of broken color rather than blended, smooth surfaces, which the eyes would merge together when looking at the painting. Impressionism was a movement whose participants wanted to explore new ways of depicting light and color and new techniques in brushwork. Additionally, they were fed up with official Salon channels and the politicking that went on there. Having their own movement allowed them to (1) support one another in their artistic efforts, (2) hold their own exhibitions and (3) cause discomfort to the Art Establishment. Monet, Woman with Parasol, 1875
Claude Monet (1840-1926) Claude Monet became the "Father of Impressionism" when he exhibited this painting of a boating scene at sunrise. His manner of painting with loose brushstrokes and bright colors in a sketchy manner prompted a writer to mimic the title in a newspaper essay. Calling him an "impressionist" was meant to be an insult, but the term stuck because it fit the ideals of the artist and his followers. Though Monet's early paintings of this style often include figures, he soon discovered that it was the landscape which most captured his interests.
Monet often painted the same subject over and over again, coming back to a scene to observe the changing light and weather conditions. Above is a cluster of poplars painted along the Epte River in 1891. Monet’s Poplar Trees Series
The Houses of Parliament Series Some samples of the many paintings Monet created on the subject of the Houses of Parliament. You will notice that the composition is almost exactly the same but that the changing colors are a result of different times of day and lighting conditions. The buildings merely provide the composition, the true subject is light and color . 1903 1904 1905
Water lilies at Giverny Monet's most famous series of paintings are those which occupied his later years of life. After achieving fame for his earlier work, Monet secluded himself in his garden in France. The earlier paintings of this series usually include the gardens or the bridge, but the later works focused on the lily pads, flowers and reflections of the sky in the water. By ridding the compositions of a horizon line, the artworks become much more abstract. In addition, these paintings are generally much larger than previous works.
August Renoir (1841-1919) Renoir was a painter of people. Like Monet, he was interested in light and how it defined the passing moment - but he rarely painted without images of people enjoying themselves. It is important to note that these are always modern people. They are his contemporaries, primarily middle-class Parisians enjoying their leisure time at outdoor or cultural events. It is part of the Impressionist aesthetic that he was interested in the changing moment, the sense that everything is about to change if you were to look away and bring your eyes back to the scene. The dappling lights and shadows, the chatter of conversations and Parisian music emanate from his canvases. The Ball at Moulin de la Galette, 1876
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Renoir's paintings is his feather-light brushstroke. He never painted with distinct outlines, but with a wispy stroke that just barely captures the form. As with many impressionist artworks, the forms are clearer from a distance and seem to de-materialize on close scrutiny. Renoir's favorite subjects were women. Whether clothed or unclothed, Renoir's women always have a fleshy softness and sweet expressions. Rosy-cheeked children also frequently occupy his canvases. One cannot help but question if the world Renoir perceived was really as sweet and pretty as the one he presents to us. Renoir chose to concentrate on images that were cheerful and bright, and full of optimism. Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881
Edgar Degas (1834-1917) Degas is known primarily for his paintings and pastels of ballerinas. He created literally hundreds of images of this subject, but the artworks are just as much about movement, light and color as they are about the ballet. Though he captures the elegance of the dance, the figures are often in awkward poses and are often cropped from the composition in unusual ways. This is his most innovative contribution. Instead of looking posed, he gives the scenes an element of spontaneity, a primary concern of all impressionists. Like the other impressionists, he is interested in light and changing atmosphere but his is almost always the light of the stage or indoor lighting.
In addition to the ballet, Degas frequently drew and painted images of women caught in the moment of grooming or bathing themselves. Here, the viewer becomes aware of a very unusual vantage point, and one almost feels like you are glimpsing the woman while she is unaware of your gaze. Again, the model is a study of natural movement. Degas does not seem to be interested in self-conscious portraiture, but in the daily events of everyday life. The Bath 1885 The Tub 1886
Another activity which was popular with the Parisian upper-middle class were the horse races. Naturally, Degas was there to record his impression of the events. Again, he chooses unusual moments such as the jockey's fall and oddly cropped compositions, bringing our attention to the random moment. The Fallen Jockey, 1883 Jockeys In Front of the Grandstands, 1882-85
Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) Mary Cassatt was one of few women artists involved in the Impressionist group. An American, she was a friend of Edgar Degas, and was invited by him to exhibit with them in Paris. Her compositions are somewhat similar to those of Degas, in the way that she crops the space. The asymmetrical compositions are also strongly influenced by the work of Japanese printmakers. Cassatt mastered the mediums of oil painting, pastel, and printmaking. The subject which most frequently captured her attention was that of the tenderness expressed between mothers and children. Cassatt herself never married or had children. She was of the belief that she had to make a choice either for motherhood or her career. She chose art, but children and family life were obviously a preoccupation. Maternal Caress, 1890-91
The Boating Party, 1893 The Bath, 1891 Mother and Child, 1880
Auguste Rodin Auguste Rodin – best know for his sculpture “The Thinker”, one in front of DIA. First sculptor since Bernini to return sculpture to the status of a major art form with emotional and spiritual depth. Considered an Impressionist sculptor.
Other Impressionists Pierre Bonnard Berthe Morisot
Alfred Sisley, The Seine at Bougival Camille Pisarro, Haymakers at Rest
Post Impressionism Post Impressionism is a term which is less easy to define than Impressionism. Though the impressionists differed in personal styles and favorite subjects, one thing which was consistent between the artists was their interest in the transitory effects of light and spontaneous compositions. Though the post-impressionists are also concerned with light, it is not as much of a central concern and their personal styles differ greatly. Post-Impressionism generally existed in the 1880's including artists such as Cezanne, Gauguin, Seurat, and Van Gogh and tended to be less naturalistic than Impressionistic. Seurat and others began the Pointillist movement, which carried the color and optical ideas of the Impressionists to an almost scientific extreme, consisting of tiny dots of color. Georges Seurat, Bathing at Ausnieres, 1883
Georges Seurat (1859-1891) Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte, 1884-85 When we look at the works of Georges Seurat it is obvious that he is concerned with the effects of light, but his compositions definitely do not evoke a sense of the spontaneous moment. First and foremost, he is noted for his invention of a method of applying paint in small dots of color. He called this method divisionism, but the term pointillism is more commonly used today.
Models in the Studio, 1887 Boats, Low Tide, 1885 Seurat developed this method in response to his understanding of scientific theories about the perception of light and color. It had recently been discovered that light can be measured in particles as well as wavelengths. It had further been concluded that when we see the various colors of the light spectrum, our eyes perceive the various particles, but the mind mixes them into distinctly different colors. Seurat's paintings are a visual experiment of this idea, placing tiny dots of various colors side by side, and allowing the viewer's mind "mix" them. When perceived up close, they are a dizzying array of vibrant colors. When seen from a distance, the image comes together in a more muted palette, the colors which are placed side by side become mixed.
Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) Self portrait 1875 Chrysanthemums, 1896 Still Life with Plaster Cupid 1895 Paul Cezanne was much less scientific in his approach to painting than was Seurat. His paint seems to be layer down in patches of color, dividing his canvases into many various planes. His colors are bright, and there is frequently a confusing sense of perspective. There is usually a very limited sense of depth and the contents of his still-lifes seem to almost topple out of balance. All of this is more purposeful than one might normally conclude, for it adds a sense of tension to the artwork, which prevents the "still" life from being quite as static.
Still Life with Onions, 1895 Still Life with Fruit, 1883 The Turning Road 1899
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) What we know of Vincent Van Gogh's tragic life is difficult to forget when we view his artwork. In his self-portraits, it is easy to see the sensitive, moody artist who was tortured by mental illness and personal tragedies. It is possible to appreciate his paintings without knowledge of his personal circumstances - but the more one learns of the man, the easier it is to fall into the entrancing spell of his personal vision. His paintings are disturbing and beautiful at the same time. He was a man who had compassion for the world, but he was a genius that might not have blossomed had it not been for his failures.
Van Gogh, Still Life with Hat and Pipe, 1885 The dark, chiaroscuro manner of painting is influenced by hundreds of years in the shadow of Rembrandt. When Vincent moves to Paris that he sees the works of the Impressionists which is to have a profound effect on his use of color. Immediately, his work became bright and full of light. Irises, 1889
Cafe on the Place du Forum, 1888 Bedroom at Arles, 1888
Despite van Gogh's emotional and physical instability, he managed to create some of his greatest paintings in the last couple years of his life, having decided upon being an artist only 8 years earlier. Unlike the Impressionists, he chose his colors almost arbitrarily, painting not what he sees but what he feels. Vincent wrote to Theo, his brother, about Night Cafe, explaining that he chose red for the walls to emphasize the idea that this is a place where a person can go mad. Vincent van Gogh, The Night Café, 1888
The Starry Night is Van Gogh's most famous painting and perhaps his greatest. He paints the night sky from a hilltop overlooking a quiet town with a church and cottages. The most dramatic theme is the swirling stars that dominate the scene. Competing for attention is a towering group of Cypress trees. It is probably significant that the Cypress is the traditional tree of graveyards, they are a symbol for eternity. Van Gogh seems to say with this painting that the works of God and nature are everlasting and that the world of man exists merely as a shadow. The Starry Night, 1889
Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield and Crows, 1890 Wheatfield and Crows was one of the last paintings that Vincent had finished. Van Gogh's name was still unknown at the time of his death. His first one-man show was exhibited two years later. He was a great influence especially to the Expressionists, Matisse and Picasso. Though he sold only one painting in his lifetime, his works now sell for millions of dollars.
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) Self-portrait, 1893 Gauguin, like Van Gogh, decided upon a career in art rather late in life. He was a Parisian stockbroker who enjoyed painting as a weekend hobby. He exhibited with the impressionists in the 1870s and in 1883 gave up his job to pursue painting full-time leaving his wife and 5 children with little money. He soon became a leader of the Post Impressionist group in Paris. He then traveled to Pont Aven, a small community in Brittany where he chose to study peasant life. Gauguin believed that the people in this deeply religious region of France were closer to nature and more sincere than those in the city of Paris. He was also attracted to the expressiveness of the peasant costumes. In Vision After the Sermon (1888), Gauguin makes a bold statement about the religious faith of the Brittany community.
The concept of spiritual purity continues to intrigue Gauguin, leading him to travel to Tahiti. Here, he hopes to discover the "noble savage", the ideal of a pure race of people who live close to the earth and are untainted by European materialism. He finds that he has been preceded by missionaries who have converted many from their native religion. There are other European influences as well: alcohol, prostitution and venereal diseases. Instead of focusing on these aspects of his new world, he decides to paint the natives in a paradisal climate, enjoying the traditions of their native culture and bathed in a hyper-colored atmosphere.
Gauguin wrote about his feelings for Tahiti as well as painting it, and in both he emphasized the mystical and religious qualities of Tahitian life. He regarded the painting below as his greatest masterpiece. He is, however, gravely ill at this time, and attempts suicide as soon as he finishes it. He died a couple years later after struggling with several illnesses. Where Do We Come From? What are We? Where Are We Going? 1897
Symbolism A literary as well as a visual art movement, in the 1890's in Europe particularly France, which included the painter Odilon Redon. A group of painters was influenced by Symbolist ideas and also carried further the ideas of the Post-Impressionists, such as Gauguin. Painters influenced by Symbolist ideas, calling themselves the Nabis, French for 'prophets', included Pierre Bonnard and Vuillard. There was also a tendency toward dreamlike imagery leading to Surrealism. Odilon Redon Self portrait Pandora, 1910
Redon, Flower Clouds, 1903 Redon, Cyclops, 1914
Edvard Munch (Norwegian, 1863-1944) Munch (pronounced Muenk) was a Norwegian painter and printmaker whose intensely psychological and emotional themes was a major influence on the development of German Expressionism in the early 20th century. His painting The Scream (1893) is regarded as an icon of the existential anguish of the post-industrial modern age. German Expressionism may have been partly inspired by the raw quality of African tribal art. In the early 20th century expressionistic art was the first time the public saw such works in art museums.
African Masks African masks were the inspiration of Expressionism and especially Cubism.
KCC Art 211 Ch 20 Late Eighteenth And Nineteenth Centuries 1. Chapter 20 Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries Neoclassicism Romanticism Photography.
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