1. Delacroix and Ingres—The Great Dialectic

    Delacroix and Ingres—The Great Dialectic

    The art of the late 18th century and early 19th century was dominated by one great artist and his students, an artist whose sensibility, in fact, transformed itself to include the extraordinary transformations in French society, French art, and French politics. I n this lecture, we will look at the most important paintings in the Louvre by the two artists who defined French art in the first half of the 19th century, Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. The extreme contrast in their styles, imagery, and artistic aims demonstrates the dialectical structure of French society in the generations after the French Revolution. This lecture reads their art in both sociopolitical and aesthetic terms and considers it in the context of the painting of Théodore Géricault, the greatest precursor of Delacroix. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Born in provincial Montaubon in the south of France, Ingres received his early training under Jacques-Louis David, while he served stints in Rome bo

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  2. Jacques-Louis David and his School

    Jacques-Louis David and his School

    In France, there was one painter who actually lived through all of that time, embodied its values, and notions, and questions in countless masterpieces, and who is probably the most important pictorial recorder of political upheaval, political regeneration, moral questioning about the rights of citizens and the rights of the individual of any painter in human history. I n this lecture, we concentrate on the definitive collection of paintings in the Louvre by the greatest French painter from 1780–1820, JacquesLouis David. A brilliant success as a student, an academician in Rome, a star in the Salons of the Ancien Regime, a member of the revolutionary government, director of the Louvre, Napoleon’s “court painter,” and finally, an exile from post-Napoleonic France in Belgium, David was the dominant painter of his generation in Europe and one of the greatest teachers in the history of art.

    Jacques-Louis David Born in 1748 and raised in Paris, David learned to paint under the wat

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  3. Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin

    Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin

    Chardin is among the most original painters of the entire 18th century. Although rigorously trained in the Academy and successful in terms of sales, critical notices, and collecting, his works looked like no other painter of his generation, and he stuck steadfastly to the minor pictorial subjects of still life, genre, and on rare occasions, portraiture. None of his sitters was truly of social importance, and his paintings of French life record that of the Parisian middle class rather than aristocrats or members of the haute bourgeoisie. The Louvre’s collection of paintings and pastels by Chardin is unparalleled, and it is a pity to reduce such a great and original artist to four works.As we talk about him, we see him looking steadfastly at us—as he did at himself in a mirror—in his pastel Self Portrait, done in the 1770s, at the end of his life, when he found it difficult to work in oil. The Ray, Chardin’s largest and most ambitious still-life painting is also his most unusual.

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  4. Watteau and Chardin

    Watteau and Chardin

    Following the death of Claude and Poussin in the last decades of the 17th century is that the capital of French art really did move from Rome to Paris. The Academy became stronger, and bigger, and more important. This lecture, too, is structured as a kind of dialogue between two artists; in this case, two artists who didn’t work at the same time, but in succeeding generations. These are two of the greatest French artists from the first half of the 18th century in Paris. This lecture discusses the period in the history of French art was dominated by one highly original but equally highly idiosyncratic artist, Antoine Watteau. We place Watteau’s oeuvre, of which the Louvre possesses a virtually collection, in the context of “public” artists of his generation. The lecture concludes with a discussion of the greatest 18th-century French artist in the minor genres of painting—still lifes and scenes of daily urban life.

    Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin was 15 years younger than Watteau bu

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  5. Claude and Poussin—French Painters in Rome

    It was also the century that produced two major French artists who paradoxically, and completely unlike Georges de la Tour and the Le Nain brothers, spent all of their working professional life outside of France—not just outside of Paris, but outside of France. This lecture deals with the two artists who were, without question, the most important figures in French painting of Le Grand Siecle (“The Great Century”). Both of them lived relatively long and productive lives by 17th-century standards, and although each of them exerted a profound effect on painting in his native France, each spent essentially his entire working life in Rome. Beyond that geographical fact, the two were startlingly different. Nicolas Poussin was a major intellectual and spent his career among the greatest Roman patrons, poets, painters, and philosophers of his age.

    By contrast, Claude Lorrain was a socially simpler man, who specialized in landscape painting and who, though much admired as an artist, lacke

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  6. De La Tour, Le Nain, and 17th-Century Painting

    De La Tour, Le Nain, and 17th-Century Painting

    The 17th century, in the so-called “Le Grand Siecle” as it’s called in French (“The Great Century”), in which French art and particularly French painting attained a very high international level. This lecture focuses on the careers of Georges de La Tour, the most profoundly original French painter of the earliest half of the 17th century, and the Le Nain brothers, who created a completely new kind of painting in France. The work of these “indigenous” French artists is then contrasted with the work of equally “French” artists who were trained in Italy and whose work can be read as an extension of Italian Baroque aesthetics applied to French contexts. The four works chosen here are all religious paintings; three have New Testament subjects, and one derives from the post-biblical lives of the Christian saints. All but one seems to have been painted for display in the secular spaces of city homes or chateaux rather than in churches.

    The earliest of the group, probably painted between 1

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  7. Rubens and Flemish Painting; Early German

    Rubens and Flemish Painting; Early German

    Peter Paul Rubens was, without question, the greatest artist of the 17th century, the late 16th century and 17th century, in Flanders, and was an artist who became, in some senses, the ¿ rst truly European artist This lecture is centered in one of the greatest rooms of Flemish paintings in the world, the cycle of immense historical decorations commissioned from Peter Paul Rubens by Marie de Medici in honor of the birth of Louis XIV. Intended for a large room in the Luxembourg Palace, the paintings were moved to a newly designed room in the Louvre in the 19th century.

    These immense paintings by Rubens and his studio are probably the triumphant masterpieces of Flemish cosmopolitan painting of the early Baroque period. We consider the collection of other works by Rubens and his most important student, Anthony van Dyck, in the Louvre before making a digression into the small but important collection of late Gothic and early Renaissance paintings from Flanders and Germany. Other

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  8. Utagawa Hiroshige: the last great master of Ukiyo-e

    Spring Rain at Tsuchiyama, from the series Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō 1834–35 Utagawa Hiroshige

    Considered the last great master of the ukiyo-e ("floating world") genre, Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858) was an extremely influential figure, not only in his country but also in Western painting. Towards the end of the 19th century, as part of the trend towards "Japonism", European artists such as Monet, Whistler and Cézanne turned to Hiroshige's work for inspiration and a certain Vincent van Gogh was known. to paint copies prints. Hiroshige was born in 1797 into a family of samurai in Edo (modern Tokyo). After the death of his parents, around the age of fourteen, Hiroshige began to engage in painting and studied for several years with the artist Toyohiro. During this period he produced many works reflecting traditional ukiyo-e themes such as women and actors, but upon Toyohiro's death in 1828 he underwent a pronounced shift towards the landscapes for which he is most famous today, as well as images of birds and flowers. His most famous series include Famous Views of th

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  9. The Art of Dream

    Woman with a Parrot 1866 Gustave Courbet

    Dreams have long proven to be fertile ground for creativity and human expression, and no less than in the visual arts, giving rise to some of his most striking images. In addition to the many and varied dreams so important to religion and myth, an exploration of the more personal dream world has emerged in recent centuries since the birth of Romanticism. Indeed, with its link with the unconscious, form may have proved to be the perfect vehicle for those artists who seek to surface what is overwhelmed - desire, guilt, fear, ambition - to bring the truth to light. that the waking spirit keeps hidden. It is also no fact that artists have been drawn to the challenge of shaping something as visually intangible as a dream, a challenge faced in many ways over the centuries. Most often there is the sleeping body itself, with the dream element incorporated in different ways. It is common for the dream sequence to appear in a totally separate part of the image, as if projected onto the walls of

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  10. Danse and Egg, Politics Caricatural

    Danse and Egg, Politics Caricatural

    Egg dancing was a traditional Easter game of laying eggs on the ground and dancing among them while trying to break as little as possible. Another variation (shown in many of the images shown here) was to tip an egg into a bowl and then try to flip the bowl over on top, all using only its feet and staying in a chalk circle. drawn on the floor. Although, like the number of its artistic representations, the hobby is associated with the peasant villages of the 16th and 17th centuries, one of the earliest references to the egg dance concerns the marriage of Marguerite of Austria and Philibert of Savoy Easter Monday. in 1498 This blindfolded version of the egg dance appears in Goethe's novel, Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship (1795). Wilhelm buys Mignon from a group of traveling artists after seeing her beaten for refusing to do the egg dance, and to thank him for saving her from captivity, she performs her egg dance for him (a scene shown in John Collier's painting shown below). According

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