Jacques-Louis David was an artistic and political revolutionary who founded the Neo-Classical style. He played a central role in the events of his time as the artistic spokesman of the French Revolution and the Republic, and he was the official artist for Bonaparte, Napoleon. His artistic innovations contributed to many nineteenth-century styles through the evolution of Neo-Classicism and the introduction of Romanticism and Realism. The government sponsored institution for the instruction of artists and the perpetuation of officially sanctioned styles was turning away from the Rococo, due in part to its association with a corrupt aristocracy. Revolutionary ideas, encouraged by the writings of Diderot, Denis, created a new wave of public opinion, which promoted virtue and moral behavior as a social responsibility.
By itself, Watteau's Gilles reveals how far Watteau had cut his style off from the rococo decorators. He continued in pursuit not so much of natural appearances as of human nature. Of course, he understood that the two can go together; and he was to bring them together in one final, supreme, and large-scale treatment, self-commissioned: L'Enseigne de Gersaint. Although nothing so marvellous could have been foreseen, the creation of this picture is logical.
The best known painting at The Huntington, The Blue Boy was Gainsborough’s first attempt at full length Van Dyck dress – knee breeches and a slashed doublet with a lace collar – which is based on the work of Anthony van Dyck, the 17th-century Flemish painter who had revolutionized British art. The shimmering blue satin is rendered in a spectrum of minutely calibrated tints – indigo, lapis, cobalt, slate, turquoise, charcoal, and cream – which have been applied in extremely complex layers of vigorous slashes and fine strokes.
The question of possible anti-Judaism/anti-Semitism in the music of Bach has been a sensitive issue in Bach scholarship in recent years, especially in the US. I, like many who are conscious of the long tradition of Christian persecution of Jews and the enormity of the Holocaust, was first drawn to this subject by disturbingly powerful performances of the choruses of the St John Passion. But now, without denying history in any way, and without forgetting the antagonisms towards, and oppression of, Jews in Bach’s milieu, but also recognizing that without explicit information from Bach himself we cannot really know what he thought in his heart of hearts, I have come to believe that the case for anti-Judaic attacks in the music of Bach remains unproven.
The painting is Fragonard's most famous works, and one of the most emblematic images of eighteenth-century art. Its genesis is reported by the writer Charles Collé. According to his journals and memoirs for 1767, the history painter Gabriel-François Doyen was commissioned by an unnamed ‘gentleman of the Court’ late in 1767 to paint his young mistress on a swing, pushed by a bishop with himself admiring her legs from below. Doyen, who had just had a major success at the Salon as a religious history painter, refused and suggested Fragonard.
During the 18th century and the time of the Enlightenment, “architects were no longer content to see their buildings glorify the state, the monarchy, or one specific stratum of society: they aspired to create monuments that would celebrate human greatness, inculcate worthy remembrance, teach moral values.”
Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741-1828) has long been recognized as the greatest European portrait sculptor of the late eighteenth century. Whether sculpting a head of state or a young child, Houdon had an uncanny ability to capture the essence of his subject with a characteristic pose or expression.
Before Valentine Green and Richard Earlom, William Pether created major mezzotints from several of the 14 paintings Joseph Wright of Derby exhibited in London between 1765 and 1772. Many of these were “candlelight pictures,” a genre exceedingly well suited to mezzotint tones.