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oil on canvas
In contrast, David tells the story of three brothers that make an oath to their father that they will die in the defense of their city (this is a legend about the founding of Rome). Most Neo-Classical paintings take their subjects from Ancient Greek and Roman history and the Oath of the Horatiiis no exception. In this painting the three Horatii brothers have been chosen to represent the city of Rome in a battle against three brothers from the neighboring city of Alba.
Here, the three Horatii brothers are swearing an oath on their swords which their father presents to them to fight until they die for their country.Here's the catch: one of the Horatii sisters (pictured on the right) is married to one of the men on the other side (the Curiatii). When one of the Horatii brothers returns home from the battle—the only one surviving—this sister greets him with condemnation for killing her husband and the father of her children. Because she puts herself and her family before the good of her country, her brother kills her. The idea here is that one must be willing to sacrifice—even sacrifice one's life and family members—for the state.
Eschewing the Rococo style, David organizes the canvas with a geometric precision that recalls the innovation of the ancient Greeks and of the Italian Renaissance that harked back to the rationalism of antiquity. David divides the linear perspectival interior into a balanced nine-part square. This rigorous structure frames the three sets of figures as does the triple screen of doric columns and arches at the far end of the room. The angle of the light heightens the muscularity of the male figures as it rakes across the surface of their bodies. This light, which enters the room from the upper left, sharply delineates mass and volume, a kind of modified tenebrism and creates, as in the work of Caravaggio, a strong sense of physicality.
The theme of Géricault's Study of Feet and Hands is a fragment. Thus his still-life shows broken facets of an event, one that has resulted in the death of the individuals whose severed limbs are arranged here, in a dramatic scenario that unleashes emotional responses. Géricault succeeds in lending the macabre motif a peculiar life of its own. It is as if the painter were concerned to dissolve the boundary between the part and the whole, the dead and the living. There is an air of tenderness in the way in which arm is draped around a foot. The intimate interlacing of a woman's arm and a man's legs may also conceal an element of eroticism.
The limbs were possibly painted after living models. Géricault painted fragments of body parts not only as preparatory studies for the greatest of his masterpieces, the Raft of the Medusa (Paris, Louvre); some he painted later as works more or less in a genre of their own: starting from functional oil sketches, he developed them into an autonomous form.
At the end of summer 1849, Courbet started work on his first monumental painting. He wanted to make it his "statement of principle" and made this clear by calling the work Painting of Human Figures, the History of a Burial at Ornans. He took his inspiration from group portraits of Dutch civic guards in the 17th century while the sumptuous blacks recall Spanish art. The nuances of colour in the dark greens and dull greys produces an austere tone, the thick, robust technique gives the people and the natural elements density and weight. The rigorous frieze-like composition and the gaping grave strewn with bones invite us to think about the human condition.
Courbet's approach was radically innovative at the time: he used a canvas of dimensions usually reserved for history painting, a "noble" genre, to present an ordinary subject, with no trace of idealisation, which cannot pretend to be a genre scene either.
At the Salon in 1850-1851, many people decried "the ugliness" of the people, and the ordinariness of the whole scene. Among the few admirers of the painting, one critic prophesied that it would remain "the Herculean pillars of realism in modern history". The very subject of the painting has been reinterpreted. At first regarded as anticlerical, it was finally believed that, in a composition dominated by Christ on the cross, bringing together the clergy, a mayor and a Masonic judge, surrounded by men and women from all walks of life, it was the idea of "universal understanding" which prevailed, a constant preoccupation in the 19th century and for the 1848 generation in particular.
Monsieur G. has deliberately filled a function which other artists disdain, and which a man of the world above all others could carry out. He has gone everywhere in quest of the ephemeral, the fleeting forms of beauty in the life of our day, the characteristic traits of which, with the reader's permission, we have called 'modernity.'
--Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life , c.1860
Baudelaire's call for an art of the present, an art of modern urban life, inspired painters like Édouard Manet. But for Baudelaire, the quintessential artist of contemporary Paris was Constantin Guys whom he obliquely referred to as "Monsieur G." Guys' watercolors and drawings of fashionable Parisians on display revealed for Baudelaire both the transitory and timeless aspects of modern life.
For many years, Guys lived in England producing journalistic sketches for The Illustrated London News and other early, illustrated magazines. He traveled widely--from Bulgaria to Egypt to Turkey--covering military campaigns and conflicts, and sent back sketches to England to be engraved. By the late 1850s, Guys had returned to Paris and his sketches of Parisian women--from ladies of high society to café-goers and prostitutes--brought him great acclaim. Baudelaire was his most fervent champion, but Guys' circle of admirers included the photographer Nadar, Eugène Delacroix and Manet. Guys socialized with the Impressionists, but shy of publicity, he maintained a low profile. On a night out in 1885, a horse-drawn carriage knocked down Guys. He survived for several years subsisting on the occasional sale of a drawing.
The painting features a nude woman casually lunching with two fully dressed men. Her body is starkly lit and she stares directly at the viewer. The two men, dressed as young dandies, seem to be engaged in conversation, ignoring the woman. In front of them, the woman's clothes, a basket of fruit, and a round loaf of bread are displayed, as in a still life. In the background a lightly clad woman bathes in a stream. Too large in comparison with the figures in the foreground, she seems to float above them. The roughly painted background lacks depth – giving the viewer the impression that the scene is not taking place outdoors, but in a studio. This impression is reinforced by the use of broad "photographic" light, which casts almost no shadows. The man on the right wears a flat hat with a tassel, of a kind normally worn indoors.
Despite the mundane subject, Manet deliberately chose a large canvas size, normally reserved for historical subjects. The style of the painting breaks with the academic traditions of the time. He did not try to hide the brush strokes; the painting even looks unfinished in some parts of the scene. The nude is also starkly different from the smooth, flawless figures of Cabanel or Ingres.
A nude woman casually lunching with fully dressed men was an affront to audiences' sense of propriety, though Émile Zola, a contemporary of Manet's, argued that this was not uncommon in paintings found in the Louvre; he also felt that such a reaction came from viewing art differently than "analytic" painters like Manet, who use a painting's subject as a pretext to paint.
The figures were modeled after people Manet knew. His wife, Suzanne Leenhoff, and his favorite model, Victorine Meurent, both posed for the nude woman, who has Meurent's face, but Leenhoff's plumper body. The two men are Manet's brother Gustave Manet and his future brother-in-law, Ferdinand Leenhoff.
To escape harassment from local inhabitants van Gogh left Arles in May 1889 and moved into a sanatorium, Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, in the nearby village of Saint-Rémy. There he hoped he would be able to work quietly and have medical supervision in case of a recurrence of his epilepsy. Saint-Rémy lay beside the Provençal hills known as the Alpilles, which are extraordinary geological formations, low-lying, rocky crags, weathered into grotesque shapes and pitted by ravines and waterchannels which have cut their way through the rocks. In the plains beneath them are fertile olive groves. Van Gogh was fascinated by this novel landscape. He was often able to go out from the hospital and paint and draw these unusual surroundings. He developed a more sinuous, linear style in drawing and a more flowing manner in painting in order to represent their special shapes and features.
In Saint-Rémy van Gogh gradually softened his palette too, entertaining the idea that in order to render his sense of the interrelation between the different elements of the landscape, tonality might be more appropriate than fierce colour contrasts. He cited the seventeenth-century artist Jan van Goyen in support of this redirection.
Spirit of the Dead Watching (Manao tupapau) is an 1892 oil on burlap canvas painting by Paul Gauguin, depicting a nude Tahitian girl lying on her stomach. An old woman is seated behind her. In Tahitian mythology the title may refer to either the girl imagining the ghost, or the ghost imagining her.
The subject of the painting was Gauguin's Tahitian wife Tehura, then 14 years old, who one night, according to Gauguin, was lying in fear when he arrived late home: "immobile, naked, lying face downward on the bed with the eyes inordinately large with fear . . . Might she not with her frightened face take me for one of the demons and spectres of the Tupapaus, with which the legends of her race people sleepless nights?" The spirit she fears is personified by the old woman seated at left. The strong colors are symbolic of the native Polynesian belief thatphosphorescent lights were manifestations of the spirits of the dead.
The painting appears to be related to a series of "frightened Eves" that Gauguin painted in 1889. For art historian Nancy Mowll Mathews, Gauguin's interest in depicting formal qualities of line and movement, mild eroticism and fright preceded the narrative aspect, a "pretext for the girl's emotions." Mathews doubts Gauguin's explanation that Tehura confused him with her irrational fears of spirits and darkness; rather, she suggests that the girl's fear would have been in response to Gauguin's aggressive behavior, and consistent with his physical abuse of women.
The vista may look out to a small French fishing port—but, really, this window opens on the future of painting in the twentieth century.
Henri Matisse painted Open Window, Collioure in the summer of 1905, when he and André Derain worked together near the Spanish border. The light-filled scene is vibrant and inviting. Blue-hulled boats float on pink waves below a sky banded with turquoise, pink, and periwinkle. These unnatural colors—Derain would later liken them to “sticks of dynamite”—provoked an outrage that year at the Salon d'Automne in Paris.
Eyewitness accounts tell of laughter emanating from the room where this painting hung with similarly bold works by Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, and others. Gertrude Stein, avant-garde writer and collector, reported that some people scratched at the canvases, and a critic, noting the presence of a Renaissance-style statuette in the center of the room, quipped, "Well, well, Donatello among the wild beasts (fauves).” Soon these artists were being called the fauves.Note the logic of his colors. They function in complementary pairs—orange-red masts over blue hulls, red blossoms amid green leaves on the wall, opposing reflections of turquoise and pink. Complements such as these become more intense when seen next to each other. Isolated by bare areas of the canvas, the combinations generate a visual vibrato that keeps our eye fixed on the surface. The angled, out-flung doors invite into the scene, but different brushstrokes in each “zone” set up cross-rhythms that impede recession: wide sweeps in the room’s interior, short wavy lines or staccato dabs in the view beyond.
First exhibited at the 1905 Salon d'Automne in Paris, this work was at the center of the controversy that led to the christening of the first modern art movement of the twentieth century — Fauvism. The term fauve ("wild beast"), coined by an art critic, became forever associated with the artists who exhibited their brightly colored canvases in the central gallery (dubbed the cage centrale) of the Grand Palais.
Femme au chapeau marked a stylistic change from the regulated brushstrokes of Matisse's earlier work to a more expressive individual style. His use of non-naturalistic colors and loose brushwork, which contributed to a sketchy or "unfinished" quality, seemed shocking to the viewers of the day.
The artist's wife, Amélie, posed for this half-length portrait. She is depicted in an elaborate outfit with classic attributes of the French bourgeoisie: a gloved arm holding a fan and an elaborate hat perched atop her head. Her costume's vibrant hues are purely expressive, however; when asked about the hue of the dress Madame Matisse was actually wearing when she posed for the portrait, the artist allegedly replied, "Black, of course."
Blue Nude (Souvenir of Biskra) ("Nu bleu, Souvenir de Biskra"), an early 1907 oil painting on canvas byHenri Matisse, is located at the Baltimore Museum of Art as part of the Cone Collection.
Matisse painted the nude when a sculpture he was working on shattered. He later finished the sculpture which is entitled Reclining Nude I (Aurore). Matisse shocked the French public at the 1907 Société des Artistes Indépendants when he exhibited Blue Nude (Souvenir de Biskra). The Blue Nude was one of the paintings that would later create an international sensation at the Armory Show of 1913 in New York City. 
The painting, which may be classified as Fauvist, was controversial; it was burned in effigy in 1913 at theArmory Show in Chicago, to where it had toured from New York City. In 1907 the painting had a strong effect on Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, partially motivating Picasso to create Les Demoiselles D'Avignon.
Family of Saltimbanques (La famille de saltimbanques) is a 1905 painting by Pablo Picasso. It is considered the masterpiece of Picasso's Rose Period, sometimes called his circus period. Its dimensions are 212.8 x 229.6 cm (83 3/4 in × 90 3/8 in).
The painting depicts six saltimbanques, a kind of itinerant circus performer, in a desolate landscape. The composition groups them together but they seem disconnected and do not look at one another.
It was painted during a period from late 1904 to early 1906 when Picasso explored themes using the saltimbanque. Picasso frequently attended the Cirque Médrano in Montmartre. Critics have suggestedFamily of Saltimbanques is a covert group portrait of Picasso and his circle, symbolized as poor, independent and isolated. The painting was removed from the Spanish salon at the IX Biennale of Venice in 1910, because considered inappropriate by the organization. 
Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was inspired by this painting as he wrote the fifth of ten elegies in his Duino Elegies (1923). Rilke used the figures in Picasso's painting as a symbol of "human activity...always travelling and with no fixed abode, they are even a shade more fleeting than the rest of us, whose fleetingness was lamented." Further, although Picasso's painting depicts the figures in a desolate desert landscape, Rilke described them as standing on a "threadbare carpet" to suggest "the ultimate loneliness and isolation of Man in this incomprehensible world, practicing their profession from childhood to death as playthings of an unknown will...before their 'pure too-little; had passed into 'empty too-much'."
A related work in gouache and pastel is Family of Acrobats (1905).
Picasso's portrait of the expatriate writer was begun in 1905, at the end of his Harlequin Period and before he took up Cubism. Stein is shown seated in a large armchair, wearing her favorite brown velvet coat and skirt. Her impressive demeanor and massive body are aptly suggested by the monumental depiction.
In her book The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1932), Stein described the making of this picture: "Picasso had never had anybody pose for him since he was sixteen years old. He was then twenty-four and Gertrude had never thought of having her portrait painted, and they do not know either of them how it came about. Anyway, it did, and she posed for this portrait ninety times. There was a large broken armchair where Gertrude Stein posed. There was a couch where everybody sat and slept. There was a little kitchen chair where Picasso sat to paint. There was a large easel and there were many canvases. She took her pose, Picasso sat very tight in his chair and very close to his canvas and on a very small palette, which was of a brown gray color, mixed some more brown gray and the painting began. All of a sudden one day Picasso painted out the whole head. I can't see you anymore when I look, he said irritably, and so the picture was left like that."
Picasso actually completed the head after a trip to Spain in fall 1906. His reduction of the figure to simple masses and the face to a mask with heavy lidded eyes reflects his recent encounter with African, Roman, and Iberian sculpture and foreshadows his adoption of Cubism. He painted the head, which differs in style from the body and hands, without the sitter, testimony to the fact that it was his personal vision, rather than empirical reality, that guided his work. When someone commented that Stein did not look like her portrait, Picasso replied, "She will."
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon, and originally titled The Brothel of Avignon) is a large oil painting created in 1907 by the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1881–1973). The work portrays five nude female prostitutes from a brothel on Carrer d'Avinyó (Avinyó Street) inBarcelona. Each figure is depicted in a disconcerting confrontational manner and none are conventionally feminine. The women appear as slightly menacing and rendered with angular and disjointed body shapes. Three figures on the left exhibit facial features in the Iberian style of Picasso's native Spain, while the two on the right are shown with African mask-like features. Theracial primitivism evoked in these masks, according to Picasso, moved him to "liberate an utterly original artistic style of compelling, even savage force."
In this adaptation of Primitivism and abandonment of perspective in favor of a flat, two-dimensionalpicture plane, Picasso makes a radical departure from traditional European painting. This proto-Cubist work is widely considered to be seminal in the early development of both Cubism and Modern art. Les Demoiselles was revolutionary and controversial, and led to wide anger and disagreement, even amongst his closest associates and friends. Matisse considered the work something of a bad joke, yet indirectly reacted to it in his 1908 Bathers with a Turtle. Braque too initially disliked the painting, yet perhaps more than anyone else, studied the work in great detail. And effectively, his subsequent friendship and collaboration with Picasso led to the Cubist revolution.
Girl with a Mandolin is an early example of an Analytic Cubist painting. Picasso painted from a model who sat in front of him, facing him. You, as the viewer, are in the position of the artist. The model is a nude girl holding a mandolin. We see the upper part of her body, from her thighs to her head. Her head turns to her left, which is your right. So, we see a profile view of her face. And she’s looking slightly downward at her mandolin, which she appears to be playing, holding the mandolin across the front of her body. Although her head is in profile to the right, the rest of her body is facing directly toward us.
The colors in this painting are shades of light brown, tan, yellow, and olive green. They all seem close to each in color, and they are all muted or dull. No bright color stands out. These factors make the entire surface of the painting appear unified in color.
Picasso looked at his model and analyzed her nude figure, breaking it down into many squares, cubes, rectangles, and other unnamable geometric shapes. He arranged these shapes to show different parts of her body that in fact, it would be impossible to see from one point in space or in a single moment of time. This characteristic is what makes it an Analytic Cubist painting, that is, showing multiple points of view simultaneously in one painting.
The background of the painting, behind the girl, shows nothing recognizable. It’s like she’s surrounded by a random pattern of squares, cubes, rectangles and other geometric shapes. Since Picasso has rendered the girl the same way as the background, it's a little difficult to tell which shapes belong to the background and which shapes belong to the girl. It’s like figure and ground are one surface.
Girl with a Mandolin is a good example of why it’s a challenge, even for a sighted viewer, to look at a Cubist painting and clearly see the figure as distinct from the background
The subject of this portrait is Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884–1979), a German-born art dealer, writer, and publisher. Kahnweiler opened an art gallery in Paris in 1907and in 1908 began representing Pablo Picasso, whom he introduced to Georges Braque. Kahnweiler was a great champion of the artists’ revolutionary experiment with Cubism and purchased the majority of their paintings between 1908 and 1915. He also wrote an important book, The Rise of Cubism, in 1920, which offered a theoretical framework for the movement.
Kahnweiler sat as many as thirty times for this portrait. No longer seeking to create the illusion of true appearances, Picasso broke down and recombined the forms he saw. He described Kahnweiler with a network of shimmering, semitransparent surfaces that merge with the atmosphere around him. Forms are fractured into various planes and faceted shapes and presented from several points of view. Despite the portrait’s highly abstract character, however, Picasso added attributes to direct the eye and focus the mind: a wave of hair, the knot of a tie, a watch chain. Out of the flickering passages of brown, gray, black, and white emerges a rather traditional portrait pose of a seated man, his hands clasped in his lap.
Virtually all avant-garde art of the second half of the twentieth century is indebted to this brave renunciation. But that doesn't make this kind of Cubism, often called Synthetic Cubism (piecing together, or synthesis of form), any easier to interpret. At first glance, Picasso's Still-Life with Chair Caning of 1912 might seem a mish-mash of forms instead of clear picture. But we can understand the image—and other like it—by breaking down Cubist pictorial language into parts. Let’s start at the upper right: almost at the edge of the canvas (at two o’clock) there is the handle of a knife. Follow it to the left to find the blade. The knife cuts a piece of citrus fruit. You can make out the rind and the segments of the slice at the bottom right corner of the blade.
Below the fruit, which is probably a lemon, is the white, scalloped edge of a napkin. To the left of these things and standing vertically in the top center of the canvas (twelve o’clock) is a wine glass. It’s hard to see at first, so look carefully. Just at the top edge of the chair caning is the glass’s base, above it is the stem (thicker than you might expect), and then the bowl of the glass. It is difficult to find the forms you would expect because Picasso depicts the glass from more than one angle. At eleven o’clock is the famous “JOU,” which means "game" in French, but also the first three letters of the French word for newspaper (or more literally, "daily"; journal=daily). In fact, you can make out the bulk of the folded paper quite clearly. Don’t be confused by the pipe that lays across the newspaper. Do you see its stem and bowl?
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