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Art History
ARTH 338


 Salon de la Princesse, Hotel de Soubise, 1735-40:
 What is it: The Receiving room of the Soubise Family, one of the many hotels built by Aristocrats after they moved back from versailles. This room is an example of the flourishing Rococo style that developed in this era. 
 By who/ For Who: Designed by Architect Boffrand for the aristocratic family. It is solely for the enjoyment of the upper class, the bourgeoisie has no play in this architectural fashion. 
 Visual Language: Rococo is defined by intricate gold stucco work, forming raised curly ques that border large expanses of white or pastel coloured walls. These colours give off a light airy feeling, giving the impression of relaxation and indulgement. small paintings of classical myth and light love stories would pierce the architecture, none with strong moral or important themes, usually just light and playful subjects, not meant to be thought about. The playful painting style of these paintings required a eye with time to jump around the painting. The small size of these paintings required an close view, almost becoming intimate with the plush naked ladies twisting throughout these paintings. 
 Theme/Agenda: all about a display of lavish art and deco, this particular room was a reception room so aristocrats would gather for intimate conversations and entertainment. It was public but in a secluded way, for the enjoyment of few rich aristocrats. The small details required time for the eye to drift over. 
 Public Response: This art style was critiqued by enlightenment critics and seen as purely decorative with no moral substance. This tied in to the overall critique of the upperclass and indirectly the monarchy, of their conspicuous consumption. It is rooms like this that fueled the anti-aristocratic sentiments leading up to the revolution. 
 Toilette of Venus, Boucher, 1751: 
 By who/ For Who: Portrait commissioned by Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King louis the 15th, for her dressing room.
 What is it: The painting is the image of Venus, roman goddess of love. She is naked, being tended to by little cupids in her Toilette, which was a french dressing room, where women got ready. 
 Visual Language: The painting is filled with luxurious fabrics draped about, using rich colours like blue, pink, gold. She sits on a rococo lounge chair, with gold stucco work and even stucco cupids incorporated. Her body is glowing, supple and curved, entangled with various linens and clasping a dove to her breast. The decorations of the room are abundant and rich, however none draw too much attention and all work together to give off the general sense of luxury as your eye easily flits around the image and eventually the body of venus. 
 Theme/Agenda: Venus is painted in the likes of Madame de Pompadour, most likely purposefully. To the king, she was his personal goddess of love so this painting could be portraying this. It was designed for an intimate setting, a small scale genre painting that you have to look at it close up, where you could leisurely enjoy the image. 
 Class/Political/Gender/Race/Sex: This image calls up a classical subject, being a roman goddess, but for no political message or agenda, pictures of venus were popular in this rococo aristocratic realm, chance to use the goddess of love as a subject to make a erotic leisurely painting with no real substance, more for the point of a beautiful thing to look at than a heavy subject to ponder. 
 Public Response: These types of paintings are considered inferior to History paintings, as they Page 1 of 1 5 don't have any real substance. a frivolous painting style that leads the eye away from the main subject. 
 The Swing, Fragonard, 1767
 By who/ For Who: This painting was commissioned one of the Kings Tax farmers (an aristocrat) named Baron st. Julien, who's job was to collect taxes that funded the clergy. Fragonard was a great genre painter of the Rococo era, a favourite of the kings second mistress. 
 Subject: The subject is of a young woman being pushed on a swing by a older man lurking in the shadows, and as she reaches the peak of her swing she lifts her leg up to give the young man seated below her a glimpse up her skirt. A little cupid looks on the events and a statue of two cherubs are seated below her. 
 Visual Language: The woman takes the centre of the frame, her light pink dress almost spotlighted against the mellow green grey country backdrop. The naturalistic forms of the bushes and trees create a calm setting, most likely at a country house that the aristocrats at the time enjoyed vacationing at. The motion created in the diagonal line of the swing connecting to the young mans outreached arm guides are eye across the image to the flirtatious affair between them. the dark lower and upper right corner of the image concealing the lurking man add a contrast to the light, fluffy scene taking place in the centre.
 Theme/Agenda: This image is another example of the erotic, fun, yet empty-in-meaning paintings that pleased the aristocracy of the ancient regime. The picture is of elites and for the consumption of elites
 Class/Political/Gender/Race/Sex: to Enlightenment critics it represented everything wrong with the state, it was associated with the decadence of the time, the misspending of funds by the aristocracy 
 Public Response:-this was, as mentioned, commissioned by an aristocrats who's job was to tax the people to fund the clergy, someone who directly took money from the bourgeoisie and here they are seeing him spend great amounts on a lavish painting- and the lack of seriousness in their position maybe? This marked the call for art with less frivolous subject matter and more art depicting nobel men and significant social subjects, something heavier. 
 Mme de Pompadour, Boucher, 1759: 
 By who/ For Who: Portrait of the Aristocrat and kings Mistress madame de Pompadour, painted by renowned and despised rococo artist Boucher. The portrait of a monarch or important person is a elevated genre painting known as a historical portrait. 
 Theme/Agenda: The image is used to send a message, and strengthen her image in the public sphere. She had become an important political advisor to the king and this portrait of her is supposed to represent her loyalty to the king, both in the image of the statue behind her and her attentive dog. Pompadour worked politically to up the kings image with the public, subscribing to diderot’s encyclopedia and read pamphlets, her brother is also made the director of arts at the academy to address the criticism of Saint Yenne (who called for morally uplifting subject). This art shows a different way one can reflect power. She supported the concern that art needed to be reformed. Women were thought to be taken by the lavish looks of the extravagant rococo paintings and needed to be kept under control 
 Visual Language: The natural yet cultivated setting of a garden shows her honest and natural personality, yet still proper and in the sphere of aristocracy and wealth. She displays her wealth in her richly designed dress that billows out around her, detailed in satin ribbons and flowers. she rests her arm against the statue base behind her, giving off a sense of ease, also seen in her slight smile.
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 Etruscan Room, Robert Adams, 1761:
 This is an etruscan style dressing room by the architect Robert Adams
 Robert adams developed a new style of interior decoration based off the new discoveries in Pompeii and Herculaneum. This style brought the architecture of the aristocratic sphere away from the overly decadent rococo style, showing their ability to be on trend and up to date. This style is still lavish and is a display of wealth and status, which is seen in the intricate and delicate rectangular framing technique, and to quote from ancient rome shows their education and knowledge of the classical world which was in vogue at the time. This reference to the classical world was common in the 18th and 19th centuries, however each reference has specific meaning for others and cannot be lumped together. In this case, several volumes of the study of newly found exciting antiquities from herculaenem had been published and were stacked in the libraries of both aristocrats and educated bourgeois. These prints of the wall paintings would have inspired aristocrats to keep up to date and decorate their house in the newly inspired fashion. These have no political purpose, like the capitol building in the states which draws on a classical past, but a social one, to demonstrate ones status and education. 
 Cupid Seller, Vein, 1763 
 This is a painting recreating an ancient pompeiian fresco. The picture shows a woman kneeling in front of a seated woman, holding out a baby cupid by the wings. another woman peers over the seated woman's shoulder. The theme of buying cupids for love was popular in ancient rome. The excavations in pompeii and hurculaneum brought about the popularity of classicizing art such as this. The colours in this painting are dark and muted, gone are the luscious fabrics and pastel colours of Boucher and Fragonard. This change in style might be in response to the style of wall painting seen in Pompeii, and an attempt to recreate a more realistic Roman setting with the women dressed in simple pallas and the architecture being simple and stoic with the use of vertical lines. Critics appreciated his distancing from the frivolous painting style and lavish settings of his contemporaries, but he was still sticking with the immoral and light subject matter. 
 Colour Oil Painting, Mengs Parnassus, Villa Albany:
 This is a painting of Apollos oracle at Parnassus by Mengs, commissioned by Albany for his villa. The central figure of this painting is modelled off the famous Apollo Belvedere, which should have been recognized if you were trained in the classical art as a good aristocrat or artist should have been. The setting is simple and austere, with a flat blue sky and some dark green trees peeking out behind the gathering of figures. The darker colours used reject the light pastel scheme of the rococo, and the figures dawn simple. monotoned rich fabrics or a darker, more primary palette. The energy of the group runs through them in a curve as the figures lead your eye circularly around the group. Apollo, as the central figure does draw our attention as other figures eyes and gestures lead us towards his image. This picture shows a turn away from the baroque rococo style and towards the ancient greek world as Winckelmann had done to reject aristocratic culture of the 18th century. The dark and refined painting focuses more on the direct reference to antiquity and your knowledge of it. This was loved by the public who flocked to see the piece. Ancient greece was largely oligarchic and democratic, a golden period that would contrast with the current monarchical reign and The villa of count Albani was one of the stops of the grand tour that the upper classes took after their education was finished. He hired art students to manufactured little antiquities and burry them, then making money off of them by selling them. 
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 Thomas Jefferson, State House, Virginia, 1785:
 Thomas Jefferson was a wealthy land owner who showed earlier interest in architectural form in his Plantation mansion. in 1785 he was asked to design the first public building for the newly independent united states. It was hard because they didn't want a centralized control so there was a debate over where to put the capital. There is a similar reference to a classical past in this architecture but with a political agenda. They had to be careful about what architecture they referenced, they could pick any period with palatial (monarchical) or church (religion) elements or background because it would go against their free republic idea. So instead he references roman republican temple architecture, because their capital is a ‘temple’ of ideas and they have the same republican representative government. He avoids anything associated with empires, such as corinthian columns. They used Ionic columns and a simple temple structure featuring engaged columns, high podium, frontal stairs, empty pediment. This carefully curated image gave off the right image of what the principles of the new government are. 
 Barrieres, Ledoux, Claude, Paris, 1785-1789 
 These are designs for the paris Barrieres, which were entrance gates around the city walls which you had to enter through, and taxed on whatever you brought into the ciy, like custom houses. They are designed by Architect Ledoux, commissioned by Louis the XVI’s who also hoped these would be a way to commemorate his rule. France and Britain had been at war repeatedly for a long time, which cost a lot of money, These Barrieres were one way he could bring in more money, through the raising of taxes and customs. He also starred to sell french nobility positions, which was hated by old blood. These houses used doric architectural order, which was seen as foundational (they were used as the base of the coliseum. Doric order is also associated with masculinity and militarism, giving the impression that one was entering into something secure. They do not have the same association with opulence, which people were starting to despise with their anti-wealth sentiments. These Barrieres were hated by the people. They were associated with taxes, and literature used these to critique government policies and indirectly critique the king. They were described as monuments to slavery, despotism and monocratic rule. Many of them were torn down in the revolution, being symbolic of the flawed government system, even though they tried to control this message through architectural order the people could see past the strong foundational militaristic look. 
 Theseus and the Minotaur, Canova, 1781
 This sculpture was commissioned by the Venetian ambassador to Rome by the beloved sculptor Canova. Aristocratic patronage looked to support the new sculptural style of referring to classic greece. Canova was promoted as a young prodigy, equal to the ancients, one who could reclaim the glories of artistic past. The venetian ambassador wanted to create something that resonated with Venetians. This Sculpture shows the myth of hero Theseus killing the Minotaur on Crete. The calm, idealized form of Theseus rests triumphantly over the dead body of the minotaur, head limp to the side. There is no evidence of violence, blood or gore, instead we see his reflection after the event, and the focus is put on victorious Theseus. This sculpture follows the greek tradition of portraying the moment directly before or after the maint event, to play on the tensions and emotions of the characters. This story was chosen because it represented Western superiority (Theseus and Venice) over middle east and Islam (Minotaur, Ottoman Turks) During this time the Christian greeks and Venetians had risen up against the islamic Page 4 of 5 ottoman turks, over a question of religious liberty (and for the venetian continued safe passage through this important trade route). They were fighting off an evil monster, it represented the fighting of fascist forces, liberty versus oppression. This myth also ties into the current events because the Minotaur lived on ancient crete. 
 Tomb of Maria Christina, Canova, 1798▯ ▯ Canova was patroned by the Hapsfords to build this tomb for their daughter Maria Christina. She had not married who she was supposed to, and her family stopped speaking to her, therefore the building of this tomb was symbolically bringing her back home. Canova was a patron of Aristocrats, he himself being a conservative catholic who supported the aristocratic feudal system and the monarchy. This tomb he built was unique, instead of the typical dead laid out on a sarcophagus surrounded by weeping angels, Canova references antiquity for his tomb. It was shallow, and lacking of any baroque pedastals. There are some pagan symbols used in the tomb, such as the snake biting its own tail being a greek symbol of eternity, even though the family was catholic. This references shows christianity’s conquering of the Pagans. There is also reference to greek and roman burial ceremonies, filling the tomb with substance to keep you going in the afterlife. The tomb itself is a shallow pyramid, with a cameo of the deceased bordered by the snake, with cherubs on each side holding wheat and flowers. There is a door entering the tomb, and 5 figures representing the family are walking as if going into the tomb to see their daughter one last time, with their heads bowed. two figures, one an angel, lie on the tomb steps weeping. ▯ 
 Napoleon, Canova, 1806-12
 This is an example of Antiquity references not always working in favour of the modern agenda. Napoleon commissioned Canova to make this sculpture of him in the likes of Mars, god of war, after his seizure of the Apollo Belvedere. Napoleons main objective was to show he worked towards culture and education. He wanted to be modelled in the likes of Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. Canova hated Napoleon and saw him as the enemy who overthrew his favoured monarchy, however he couldn't say no. So he produced this image of Napoleon completely naked. When it was revealed to the politicos, ministers, diplomatic ambassadors and family, the whole crowd started to giggle, cause who wants to see their ruler naked? even if it is in the body of an idealized classical god there is still inherent embarrassment there, the heroic nude didn't transfer over to France, at least in ruler portraiture. Canova took advantage of this and pushed to sculpture to the point of the extreme. 
 Emperor Marcus Aurelius Distributing Food, Vein, 1767
 This painting was designed by Vien, teacher of David, for the kings Chateau. The subject shows emperor Marcus Aurelius distributing foodstuff to the poor. This was a history painting, that picked up a moral subject as it was supposed to. This particular theme showed the virtue of great rulers, subconsciously tieing the message back to the king himself. Again we see the use of strong, primary and royal colours, moving away from the elegant pastels. The vertical columns give off a sturdy, strong feeling as the emperor ascends a flight of steps, gesturing to the people around him. He is dressed in his military gear, and his generals behind him carry bread. The women grouped to his left glance up to him, as well as the woman lying on in the foreground. There are villagers in the background reaching their arms up for bread, again all bringing our attention back to the emperor in the centre. As we can see this purposeful Page 5 of 5 reference of antiquity was for the purpose of praising the king and monarchy, putting his actions in good light and aligning them with favourable emperors such as Marcus Aurelius. 
 Manlius Torquatus Condeming his son to Death, Berthelemy, 1785
 This Painting showing emperor Manlius Torquatus condemning his son to death is an example of an outstanding history painting in the eyes of traditional critics, displaying excellent traditional technique. This painting was a royal commission by the painter Berthelemy for the salon of 1785. Manlius Torquatus condemned his son to death after he went against the reinstated old military techniques and left his post, an offence that had been punishable by death. His father berated his son and followed through on the execution. This painting makes use of rich bold colours like red and green ads well as muted cremes. A large crowd gathers behind the son, but the three central figures loop our eye up towards the consul, with gestures pointing towards Manlius. The muted blue sky and distant crowd draw no attention away from the main action, becoming a sea of flesh coloured tones in the background .The brightness of Manlius’s robe spotlights him as he points out and draws his head down, in a moment of pain. This subject, just like Horatii, deals with the topic of extreme consequences of patriotism and the consuls overriding dedication to law. Following traditional history painting technique, there is pictorial unity seen instantaneously. We see the theme of leadership and the necessity of obeying instruction at all times. Some however, critiqued this painting for being too standard, following every single rule previously set forth for history paintings, with no boundaries being pushed. It is even suggested that the emperors expression is horribly contrived and almost like a bad actor, over acting and taking away from the truthfulness of the moment. These critics are ones who appreciated the Horatii for pushing the boundaries and rejecting history painting tradition, using awkward space purposefully to make a point of his subject and break from tradition. 
 The Village Wedding, Greuze, 1761
 This Painting shows a quaint village marriage ceremony, showing the transference of dowry between the father and the groom. This image was commissioned by Marquis de Marigny, the director des Batimants. It is a genre painting, but considered to be an example of virtue, praised by Diderot for its moral value. He liked that the painting wasn't too lavish. This painting was popular with the Bourgeoise because it rejected the frivolous images connected with the rococo style, which was loved by the money squandering aristocracy, this painting instead included more humble parts of life was was relatable to lower classes. This might have been Marquis’ intention, in reaction to the enlightenment critics call for something of more moral substance and to ditch the extravagant style, he was pandering to what the public wanted. The Painting sticks to the darker colour scheme and is void of any lavish decoration. It shows a simple country home, with the figures arranged in a crescent like shape across the scene. The seated figures all gesture and lead the eye up towards the standing figures in the middle of the scene, the bride and groom. The brides white dress is simple in design but glows bright among the mellowed red and navy blue clothes of her family. Interesting details can draw our eye away from the main scene, such as the sister scowling over her father, the little boy leering forward over the seated mother, the pigeon pecking away at something on the ground. Genre painting was considered lesser to history painting, and that it was a feminine art. This was because women were forbid from history painting, being unable to study from the nude form. But Greuze’s paintings were very highly regarded. 
 The Emperor Septimius Reprimanding his Son, 1769
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 This piece was created by Greuze as his diploma piece after he was accepted as Agree. He had waited 5 years to complete it, for he was already making serious wealth in the genre category, and Diderot had praised him. He thought he could make the jump to History painting with this piece. This painting is yet another turn to antiquity, which is common with history paintings. It shows Emperor Septimus, who was known for strengthening Hadrians walls and expanding Rome, lying in bed reprimanding his son. This piece was subsequently condemned and rejected as a history piece. In the painting. the emperor lounges naked on a rich satin bed, his hand making a limp gesture towards his son. The people behind him are looking down, leading the eye out instead of in towards the main subject. His son is sulking, giving off the impression that this is simple family drama between a father and son, with no authority given to the emperor, even his diplomats don't seem to respect him. This lacked pictorial unity, which was one of the key points of a history painting. Greuze specialized in anecdotal details, which undermines the focus of the painting. He also was not classically trained in ancient history and myth, and the emperor he chose was not befitting for the current french government, some of the extension of his empire brought about the fall of Rome. 
 Portrait of Marie Antoinette and her Children, Vigee-Lebrun, 1787
 This portrait of Marie Antoinette was commissioned by the queen herself in response to another portrait of her being badly received by the public. This portrait was of the hybrid category of historical portraiture. The public in general despised the queen, and as they couldn't directly critique the king she was their scapegoat for him as well. She was seen as a foreigner, a sexual deviant who had relations with several me
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