Passion For Art


JACQUES LOUIS DAVID (1748-1825) 'Napoleon Crossing the Alps', 1801 (oil on canvas)
‘Napoleon Crossing the Alps’, 1801 (oil on canvas)

Neo-Classicism was a reaction against the pomposity of Rococo. This was the Age of the Enlightenment and political, social and cultural revolution were in the air. Artists needed a serious art for serious times and once again they looked back to the art of Antiquity as their model. Inspired by the archaeological discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii, Neo-Classicism had a historical accuracy that earlier classical revivals lacked. Historical scenes of heroism and virtue were used as patriotic propaganda or allegories on contemporary circumstances. Jacques Louis David and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres were the outstanding virtuosos of Neo-Classical painting.


JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM TURNER (1775-1851) 'The Fighting Temeraire', 1839 (oil on canvas)
‘The Fighting Temeraire’, 1839 (oil on canvas)

Romanticism valued the expression of emotion over the control of Classicism. This was achieved through spectacular painting technique and the choice of emotive and sensual subjects which often commemorated dramatic contemporary and historical events. In France, Delacroix and Géricault were the pioneers of Romanticism; in England, it was Turner and Constable; in Germany, Caspar David Friedrich and in Spain, Goya.


GUSTAVE COURBET (1819-1877) 'Apples and a Pomegranate', 1871 (oil on canvas)
‘Apples and a Pomegranate’, 1871 (oil on canvas)

Realism was a French style of painting that focused on the everyday reality of a subject, warts and all. Realist artists such as Millet, Corot, Courbet and Manet reacted against the heightened emotions of Romanticism. They sought an objective truth that reflected the social realities of the common man in his natural environment. Realism was also inspired by a new exploration of ‘visual reality’ that followed the invention of photography around 1840.


DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI (1828-1882) 'La Ghirlandata', 1873 (oil on canvas)
‘La Ghirlandata’, 1873 (oil on canvas)

The Pre-Raphaelites were a brotherhood of young English artists who created artworks that were a blend of Realism and Symbolism. Dissatisfied with the art of their own time they rebelled against the ‘Grand Manner’, the artificial Mannerist tradition that stretched back to Raphael. They drew inspiration from the Early Renaissance (before Raphael), when artists explored the ideal of ‘truth to nature’. The Pre-Raphaelites painted all their works from direct observation with meticulous detail and vibrant colors. They drew their subjects from the Bible, Dante, Shakespeare and contemporary poetry usually with an idealized medieval theme. The founding members of the group were John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

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