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- Jean-Antoine WatteauPilgrimage to CytheraEmbarkation for Cythera1717Oil on canvasH: 1.29 m; L: 1.94 m
- Collection of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture
- Rococo 1700-1780
- Are the lovers about to set sail for Cythera, or are they returning from the island of love? The question is still open. This superb painting was the reception piece that Watteau submitted to the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. The subject was so striking and so new that the expression "fête galante" was invented to
- describe it.
Angelica Kauffmann, Cornelia Presenting Her Children, the Gracchi, as Her Treasures (1785). Oil on canvas, 3'4 inches x 4'2 inches Neoclassicism 1780-1815
- In this work Cornelia is shown conversing with another matron. The other woman has come to Cornelia's home on a social call and is showing
- off her new jewels and fancy adornments. When the visitor asks to see Cornelia's gems, Cornelia calls for her two sons, the Gracchi, to come forward, presenting them as her greatest treasures. Her loyalty to her sons and their political careers is well-documented by Roman histories such as Plutarch. Her enduring loyalty and great humility were both often used in art as devices to show the traits most prized in women, and have often come under discussion in debates on gender roles. Kauffman's beautiful and touching rendering of the work is suffused withmaternal feeling and sentiment. Her works, often depicting scenes of motherhood, are beautiful in the clarity and pose with which she
- portrayed people and the emotions driving them.
- **The Gracchi brothers, Tiberius and Gaius, were Roman Plebian nobiles who both served as tribunes in 2nd century BC. They attempted to pass land reform legislation that would redistribute the major patrician landholdings among the plebeians. For this legislation and their membership in the Populares party they have been considered the founding fathers of both socialism and populism. After achieving some early success, both were assassinated for their efforts.
- Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Marat (1793). Oil on canvas, 64x50inches
- The painting depicts Marat in his death throes; Charlotte Corday has fled but left behind the knife, which lies near right hand on the floor, and the letter she gave him in introduction which he still holds
- in his left. Its words, "My great unhappiness gives me a right to your kindness" seeks to show Marat in sympathetic light as an powerful individual happy to assist a woman in need. This is further emphasized
- by the letter he was working on previous to their encounter. It sits on his makeshift desk and reads,"You will give this assignat to that mother
- of five children whose husband died in the defense of his country." The wound to his chest is clearly seen against his pale, almost translucentskin. David has painted Marat as a martyr to the Revolution, and thoughhe was seen by many has a dangerous radical this visual representation was applauded and treasured by the Republic for years.
- Thomas Jefferson, Monticello,
- Charlottesville, Virginia
- Jefferson worked on Monticello for more than 40 years, altering and enlarging it as his taste developed, reflecting the pleasure he found in "putting up and pulling down." Before 1795 the house had a Palladian-influenced tripartite form with two-level porticoes. After seeing the work of Boullée and Ledoux in France, he returned to Monticello with his head full of new ideas, above all, about its dome, and an aversion to grand staircases, which he believed took up too much room. When an extensive revision was finished in 1809, it had become a 21-room amalgam of Roman, Palladian, and French architectural ideals, a unique statement by one of history's great individuals. The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation has maintained Monticello as a place of pilgrimage for millions since 1923.
- Jefferson's attention to garden design paralleled his interest in architecture. Both ornamental and vegetable gardens, as well as two orchards, a vineyard, and an 18-acre "grove," or ornamental forest, were included in his landscape plans. Jefferson's detailed records and recent archeological
- discoveries have made possible an accurate recreation of his gardening scheme. Since 1987, Monticello has included the Thomas Jefferson Center
- for Historic Plants.
- Henry Fuseli
- The Nightmare exhibited 1782
- Oil on canvas, 1210 x 1473 x 89 mm
- This particular version of The Nightmare—the first of several—is an oil painting on canvas by Henry Fuseli. Painted in the Gothic/Romantic style, it depicts a young woman in the anguish of a bad dream. Fuseli created at least three other versions illustrating the
- same dark theme, however this has come to be the most well-known. The size of this piece is fairly large, standing three-and-a-half feet tall and just over four feet wide. The color palette consists mostly of dark
- colors—black, deep grays, shades of brown, and blood red—with the exception of the young woman and the bed which she is laying upon, which are made up of more heavenly whites and gold tones. Fuseli's
- chiaroscuro style in addition to the centralized contrast between light and dark give the scene an eerie glow. Dripping with scandalous sexuality and cloaked in mystery, The Nightmare is undoubtedly Swiss artist Henry Fuseli's most famous—and most controversial—painting.
- Formal and Contextual Analysis
- It has been hypothesized by many that Fuseli's reason for painting The Nightmare—as well as its other versions—was due to a rejected marriage proposal.
- While traveling through Europe, Fuseli met and fell in love with Anna Landholdt. Landholdt's father forbade the marriage of his daughter to Fuseli; she promptly married another. Art historian H. W. Janson proposed that Fuseli's anger led him to depict Miss Landholdt in anguishas he, the incubus, poisoned her sleep.
- The reactions The Nightmare received at its unveiling in 1782 at the Royal Academy of London consisted almost entirely of shock and disapproval. It reeked of demonic and adulterous sexuality even though the schene did not illustrate any forthright acts of eroticism.
- Countless interpretations have been made as to what each component of the painting may mean. The most prominent is the aforementioned proposal that the woman is Miss Anna Landholdt and the incubus is Fuseli himself. Regardless of who the woman is, the position not only screams passive vulnerability, it is one which was once thought to induce nightmares, or "old hag" experiences. Shrouded in white—the color that has always represented and epitomized all that is good and pure—she seems to give off a heavenly glow. Behind her is draped a blood-red curtain, a color that often symbolizes passion and lust. This creates a high contrast from that of the woman's light-colored figure, which intensifies her eminent glow. It also creates a symbolic contrast between the woman's innocence and the evil that surrounds her.
- Perched on the woman's breast is the demonic incubus. Though he does not seem to be engaging in any evil deeds, his facial expression openly implies his annoyance with the viewer(s) for interrupting his scheme. The word incubus itself has several meanings and pictorially may symbolize any, if not all, of these definitions. Firstly, it is defined as "an imaginary demon or evil spirit supposed to descend upon
- sleeping persons, especially one fabled to have sexual intercourse with women during their sleep." This is the most obvious of the interpretations, epecially to those of the Fuseli-Landholdt theory. Secondly, an incubus can be "something that weighs upon or oppresses one
- like a nightmare." Fuseli illustrates this definition both literally and figuratively, since the incubus is sitting atop the chest of the woman as well as weighing upon her dreams. Lastly, the word incubus is synonymous with 'nightmare,' tying directly back into both the title and theme of the painting.
- Emerging from the background is the wild, obtrusive horse bursting through the curtains, eyes bulging and mouth open; one can almost hear its possessed and rabid neighing. Its form is blurred as though in
- motion, while its mane swirls around its head in an unruly manner. At first glance, it may seem out of place symbolically, but contrary to this opinion, it is indeed the third component of Fuseli's nightmarish
- triangle. The most obvious link has to do with the semantics of the word mare, a female horse, from nightmare. The origins of the word mare are derived from the Old English word maere, which referred to a goblin or incubus. Thus, the horse and the incubus
- share similar names. One theory also suggests that the incubus traveled at night on a wild mare, ergo night-mare.
- Regardless of his intent, Fuseli successfully managed to capture the essence of a nightmare and the opression each one is capable of causing.No one is immune to the occasional bad dream which makes The Nightmare a timeless and haunting image that leaves a lasting impression on any who gaze upon it.
- Francisco Goya, The Third of May, 1808, The Shootings at Mount Principio Outside Madrid, oil on canvas, 1814
- Goya's 1814 painting, The Third of May, 1808, The Shootings at Mount Principio Outside Madrid, expresses Goya's bitter disappointment. On May 2, 1808, a French soldier was shoot dead in Madrid. A Spanish sniper was blamed for the murder, ostensibly an act in defense of Spanish autonomy. The French
- response was swift, brutal and wildly disproportionate.
- This is a large canvas of a contemporary tragedy (the painting could be safely made only after Napoleon was deposed in 1814). It consciously refers to the historical use of large-scale history and religious
- painting (ex. David's Oath of the Horatii, 1784-85), asserting the Romantic claim that the present should reclaim its primacy over an idealized past. Large scale both implies significance and makes the scene both proximate and immediate for the viewer. Goya's scale places us not so much outside the canvas, looking in, but rather so that it seems that we are enveloped into the space, we are not so much observer as direct witnesses.
- Rather than the more obvious solution where both the French and the Spanish face off in perfect and equal profile, Goya has shifted our vantage so that we more directly face the victims while the faces of the
- Napoleonic guard are obscured. This successful strategy increases our sympathy on the one hand while reducing the soldiers individuality and perhaps even equating them with the guns that become their faces on the other.
- Similarly expressive is Goya's decision to trap the persecuted against the rising mountain and the heavy and forbidding blackness of the night sky. Finally, Goya multiplies the terror of the immediate ordeal by
- trailing the line of unfortunate captives into the distance, suggesting the that this action will by repeated throughout the night. Line, Brushwork and Color:
- In sharp contrast to the smooth surfaces and modulation of tone seen in Neo-Classicism, French and Spanish Romanticism tended to strive instead
- for a more impulsive, more physical mark.
- In Goya's painting the figures are rendered in comparatively broad and rough strokes of the brush. Like the mature work of the Great Spanish Baroque painter Diego Velasquez whom Goya so much admired, there is in the Third of May... an effort to invigorate and humanize th frozen compositions of the previously dominant styles (the High Renaissance and Neo-Classicism respectively). This newly recovered
- aggressiveness is also expressed through light and color. Goya intensifies the painting's emotional pitch by the interaction of sharp contrasts; light collides with expansive darks; white and yellow are sharp and vivid against the deep blacks, browns and reds.
- Abbey among Oak Trees
- Abtei im Eichwald
- 1809 or 1810
- Caspar David Friedrich
- Abbey among Oak Trees is the companion piece to Monk by the Sea. Friedrich showed both paintings in the Berlin Academy Exhibition of 1810. At the request of the 15-year-old crown prince, they were bought by King Friedrich Wilhelm III. In their perplexing remoteness and formal radicalism they were to become key works in German Romanticism. In Monk by the Sea a human being stands lost in the apocalyptic loneliness and infinity of nature and the cosmos. He meditates on life and its boundaries. In the companion piece, the gates of death have opened.
- Monks carry a coffin into a deserted Gothic ruin to hold a requiem mass under the cross. The graveyard with its crooked, sunken tombstones is equally deserted. Bare oaks reach up into the sky as though in complaint. The first light of dawn is appearing over the horizon like an ocher-yellow veil, outshining the tender curve of the crescent moon. The visionary gleam of the heavenly realm is completely detached from the earthly regions, which are still sunk in darkness. One sign of hope is in the two single lights on the crucifix. For the painter Carl Gustav Carus, who was also a friend of Friedrich’s, this painting was “of all recent landscapes, possibly the most deeply poetic work of art.”