The Romanesque and Gothic Styles

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Thomas Aquinas (1225-1273) was a medieval scholar who started life, much as St. Francis of Assisi. Both began life in well to do Italian households and were given an upper class classical/religious education. Both were called to serve the church and in both cases, their callings were probably much to the vexation of their parents.In the case of St. Francis, his calling made him give away much of his father’s wealth and he then took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and became the founder of the Franciscan order. Aquinas parents were disappointed for similar but slightly different reasons. They expected young Thomas to become an abbot of the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino, and therefore, since he would control much of the monastery's wealth, he would be able to aid his own family’s fortune. Instead Thomas he joined the Dominican order, which like The Franciscans, the Dominicans were a mendicant order and took similar non-wealth oriented vows.
The family responded by kidnapping him back to his home and plying him with "wine, women and song." None of this worked and so Thomas was allowed to rejoin his fellow Dominicans in Paris where he was exposed to the academic ecclesiastic community he found there. While in Paris he had access to many academic Christian texts as well as the writings of the classical philosophers such as Aristotle. The influence of which can be seen very clearly in his most famous work his Summa theologiae or 'summary of Theology.'
The Summa theologiae is written in a question and answer format that was standard medieval form for treatises. Each "question" is really the introduction of a topic and the following "answer" is really an exposition and exploration of the main ideas presented by the "question." The following selection consists of the "Five Ways" which is a small portion of the Summa theologiae concerning the existence of God.

The Five Ways, 
Translation by David Burr
Article 3: Whether God exists.
Thus we proceed to the third point. It seems that God does not exist, for if one of two contrary things were infinite, its opposite would be completely destroyed. By "God," however, we mean some infinite good. Therefore, if God existed evil would not. Evil does exist in the world, however. Therefore God does not exist.
Furthermore, one should not needlessly multiply elements in an explanation. It seems that we can account for everything we see in this world on the assumption that God does not exist. All natural effects can be traced to natural causes, and all contrived effects can be traced to human reason and will. Thus there is no need to suppose that God exists.
But on the contrary God says, "I am who I am" (Ex. 3:14).
Response: It must be said that God's existence can be proved in five ways.
The first and most obvious way is based on the existence of motion. It is certain and in fact evident to our senses that some things in the world are moved. Everything that is moved, however, is moved by something else, for a thing cannot be moved unless that movement is potentially within it. A thing moves something else insofar as it actually exists, for to move something is simply to actualize what is potentially within that thing. Something can be led thus from potentiality to actuality only by something else which is already actualized. For example, a fire, which is actually hot, causes the change or motion whereby wood, which is potentially hot, becomes actually hot. Now it is impossible that something should be potentially and actually the same thing at the same time, although it could be potentially and actually different things. For example, what is actually hot cannot at the same moment be actually cold, although it can be actually hot and potentially cold. Therefore it is impossible that a thing could move itself, for that would involve simultaneously moving and being moved in the same respect. Thus whatever is moved must be moved by something, else, etc. This cannot go on to infinity, however, for if it did there would be no first mover and consequently no other movers, because these other movers are such only insofar as they are moved by a first mover. For example, a stick moves only because it is moved by the hand. Thus it is necessary to proceed back to some prime mover which is moved by nothing else, and this is what everyone means by "God."
The second way is based on the existence of efficient causality. We see in the world around us that there is an order of efficient causes. Nor is it ever found (in fact it is impossible) that something is its own efficient cause. If it were, it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Nevertheless, the order of efficient causes cannot proceed to infinity, for in any such order the first is cause of the middle (whether one or many) and the middle of the last. Without the cause, the effect does not follow. Thus, if the first cause did not exist, neither would the middle and last causes in the sequence. If, however, there were an infinite regression of efficient causes, there would be no first efficient cause and therefore no middle causes or final effects, which is obviously not the case. Thus it is necessary to posit some first efficient cause, which everyone calls "God."
The third way is based on possibility and necessity. We find that some things can either exist or not exist, for we find them springing up and then disappearing, thus sometimes existing and sometimes not. It is impossible, however, that everything should be such, for what can possibly not exist does not do so at some time. If it is possible for every particular thing not to exist, there must have been a time when nothing at all existed. If this were true, however, then nothing would exist now, for something that does not exist can begin to do so only through something that already exists. If, therefore, there had been a time when nothing existed, then nothing could ever have begun to exist, and thus there would be nothing now, which is clearly false. Therefore all beings cannot be merely possible. There must be one being which is necessary. Any necessary being, however, either has or does not have something else as the cause of its necessity. If the former, then there cannot be an infinite series of such causes, any more than there can be an infinite series of efficient causes, as we have seen. Thus we must to posit the existence of something which is necessary and owes its necessity to no cause outside itself. That is what everyone calls "God."
The fourth way is based on the gradations found in things. We find that things are more or less good, true, noble, etc.; yet when we apply terms like "more" and "less" to things we imply that they are closer to or farther from some maximum. For example, a thing is said to be hotter than something else because it comes closer to that which is hottest. Therefore something exists which is truest, greatest, noblest, and consequently most fully in being; for, as Aristotle says, the truest things are most fully in being. That which is considered greatest in any genus is the cause of everything is that genus, just as fire, the hottest thing, is the cause of all hot things, as Aristotle says. Thus there is something which is the cause of being, goodness, and every other perfection in all things, and we call that something "God."
The fifth way is based on the governance of things. We see that some things lacking cognition, such as natural bodies, work toward an end, as is seen from the fact hat they always (or at least usually) act the same way and not accidentally, but by design. Things without knowledge tend toward a goal, however, only if they are guided in that direction by some knowing, understanding being, as is the case with an arrow and archer. Therefore, there is some intelligent being by whom all natural things are ordered to their end, and we call this being "God."
To the first argument, therefore, it must be said that, as Augustine remarks, "since God is the supreme good he would permit no evil in his works unless he were so omnipotent and good that he could produce good even out of evil."
To the second, it must be said that, since nature works according to a determined end through the direction of some superior agent, whatever is done by nature must be traced back to God as its first cause. In the same way, those things which are done intentionally must be traced back to a higher cause which is neither reason nor human will, for these can change and cease to exist and, as we have seen, all such things must be traced back to some first principle which is unchangeable and necessary, as has been shown.

Aquinas' "Five Ways"
How is Aquinas' text a treatise?
Although Aquinas writes during the Gothic era how does his essay reflect some Renaissance ways of thinking?
Aside from the fact that this text is an attempt to prove the existence of God, what other societal factors made it possible for Aquinas to write this text?
Choose a work of art or music and explain how it mimics the form or ideas expressed in Aquinas' treatise. 

Pisa Complex
Baptistry 1153, (foreground)
Cathedral (Duomo) 1063, (midground)
Tower (Campinale) 1174 (back right)

 Iconography and Context:  The Pisa Cathedral complex is a good axample of the combination of religious and patriotic devotion.  It is basically almost the heart of the community which built it.  It was the place where, after you were brought into the world, you would be baptized in the Baptistry and when you died a prayer was said for you in the Cathedral.  The bell in the "Leaning Tower" called you to worship and marked the hours of the day for you.  The fact that the entire complex took more than a hundred years to construct is key in understanding the effort, pride and consistency of the faith of the people who built it.  As such, the complex is an "icon" of devotion.Form:  According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Both the cathedral and the baptistery are built of white marble with strips of black in the Pisan Romanesque style, which features colonnades and the decorative use of pointed arches."  In this way the buildings are all made of sumptuous materials and also illustrate the fusion of several different periods' styles: the early Christian Basilican style complete with its cross vaults, the Romanesque technology of thick supporting arches, and the arches and highly ornate decorations of the Gothic style.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
The Leaning Tower of Pisa, begun in 1174 and completed in the 14th century, is also round and is constructed throughout of white marble, inlaid on the exterior with coloured marbles.  The uneven settling of the campanile's foundations during its construction gave the structure a marked inclination that is now about 17 feet (5.2 m) out of the perpendicular. The camposanto's marble buildings, erected from 1278 in the Italian Gothic style by Giovanni di Simone, contained important frescoes by various 14th- and 15th-century Tuscan artists, notably Benozzo Gozzoli. His frescoes there were damaged by bombing during World War II but have since been restored."

Cathedral (Duomo) 1063,

Form: The Cathedral is initially built in the Romanesque style.  The overall plan is a Latin cross plan with a dome floating above the crossing of the nave and transept.  The facade is white marble with a simple looking arcade of Roman style arches atop classical, almost Corinthian style columns.  The overall order is symmetrical, squat and very predictable and geometric.The dome, which is a later edition, is almost an onion or egg shaped pointed dome which is different from the type of simple dome that we might come to expect from buildings such as the shallow half dome of Hagia Sofia and or the perfect half circle of the Pantheon.
Iconography:  The form of the structure is somewhat iconic.  Overall the structure looks fairly "traditional" in a Byzantine or Early Christian sense.  The plan is somewhat like St. Peters in Rome and the exterior of the building is made of a series of Roman triumphal arches and classical collumns.  These two architectural references give the building some "class" in their references to older honored styles.
Context:  A Cathedral like this is the "seat" of the community.  Cathedra in Latin means chair or seat.  The structure would have taken years to build and was the center of the community.  In many Italian cities, the main Cathedral usually has a dome floating above the crossing and the Italians will refer to the main Cathedral in their city simply as the "Duomo" which means "dome" in Italian.


interior of cathedral
interior of cathedral

Form: The interior of this Cathedral demonstrates the transitions between Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic styles. The roof is Byzantine They were constructed using flat timber and cross vaults in the side aisles. The first sign is the rows of Roman style arches atop the collumns around the perimter of the nave.  The high pointed archways Gothic style arches are at the crossing of the nave and transept. There was also a tendency at this time for the architect to be influenced by Islamic art and decoration. The Islamic Mosques, such as Dome of Jerusalem, were filled with two-tone paining on the arches and columns, whose influence can clearly be seen in the upper picture, with the black and white crosses and striped columns above. The arches themselves are also entirely reminiscent of Islamic architecture, tall and pointed at the top, they closely resemble the arches found in the courtyard of Masjid-I Jami (Stokstad pg. 356 for example). Context: The interior of this church is meant to inspire awe in the worshippers, and this particular Cathedral has a Mosaic done by the artist Cimabue. Cimabue was a well known and respected Byzantine style fresco painter who painted prmari;y for the church, and was believed to have painted Mother and Child Enthroned for the main alter of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Florence at about 1280. What makes it important that Cimabue is said to have done a mosaic for this Cathedral is the fact that mosaics were rarely done in this time period because of the expense of thematerials and the need for a skilled artisan to create them. In this case, not only did the church spare no expense for the materials, but they also hired one of the most skilled and expensive craftsmen of the time. This helps to underscore the importance of the church as a center of worship and of economics. The Cathedrals took hundreds of years to build, and employed thousands of craftsmen, architects, artisans, and laborers. The building of the Cathedrals could keep a town flourishing for years. The advent of a Cathedral not only provided religious stability for a city, but economic security as well.
There are some marked differences between the Gothic and Romanesque style that are important to keep in mind while studying the two, as it will help you to easily identify which cathedral comes from which period. The first, and easiest to remember, is the way in which the Romanesque style most closely resembles that of ancient Roman architecture. By this, it means that there tends to be a more horizontal feeling to the structure, as well as copious amounts of Roman style  columns and rounded archways, as opposed to the more pointed archways of the Gothic time.
"The cathedral, begun in 1063, has a nave with double-vaulted aisles and transepts with single-vaulted ones, and a cupola at the intersection of the two axes. On the western front, the range of arches running around the base of the cathedral is repeated in four open arcades."  Brittanica

Form:  According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,  "The circular baptistery, begun in 1152 but only completed in the 14th century, is covered by a dome surmounted by a cone, which gives the structure an ogival, Oriental effect. The interior contains a wonderful hexagonal pulpit completed in 1260 by Nicola Pisano."

Nicola Pisano. Nativity,
Pulpit from Pisa's Baptistery c1259
Italian Gothic,
Form:  This pulpit exhibits qualities from all three of the eras.   The ornate carving and stylization of the lions and the lions demonstrates both the influence of the Byzantine and Gothic eras.  The classical columns surmounted by Gothic style tracery show those periods styles.Iconography:  This pulpit is the podium from which the priest or brother who resides over the ceremonies and services speaks from.  As such it is elevated as his words must be but the decorations and ornamentation are also iconic of the priest's words and his status. The references to both the classical and gothic styles also lend the work some authority as well.  The sculptures of the eagle and lions at the base have some basis in earlier traditions in which lions and monsters serve an apotropaic (protective) function but in this case, it is possible that the lions could refer to the story of Daniel in the lion's den or to a passage from the the 95th Psalm (read the entire Psalm in "Liaisons"):
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Likewise, the representation of the eagle could be a reference to one of the apostles or again to the psalm:
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Context:  Several generations of the Pisano family had worked in and around the Pisa complex where this was found.  The Catholic Church at this point in time was the major patron of the arts.  It was not unusual for several generations of artists or workers to work on a single church or structure.

Nicola Pisano. Nativity, detail of Baptistery Pulpit panel: Annunciation,
Nativity and Annunciation to Shepherds 1259-60 Italian Gothic,

Pediment of the Parthenon
Three Goddesses c438BCE
Greek Classic,
Form:  This is a relief carving.  The relief varies greatly in the height and or depth of each of the figures and objects.  In general the composition is fairly symmetrical yet it is very crowded and almost seems disorganized.  Most of the figures are placed in the foreground of the picture plane and the space created is not very illusionistic.  Space is created by placing the figures in the foreground lower in the picture plane.  In order to show the recession of space, the figures are layered and the placed in a vertical perspective. The rendering of each of the figures is fairly naturalistic and the clothing, drapery and poses are somewhat reminiscent of carvings such as the this one from the Parthenon's pediment.  Several of the figures, such as the main one which depicts Mary and the child (Jesus) are repeated because several scenes are simultaneously being represented.  This kind of continuous narrative is common in Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance art.
Iconography:  This is a nativity scene that at first appears to take place in a manger but it also contains the baptism of Christ as well as the annunciation by the angel Gabriel.  The scenes are as follows, far left the angel Gabriel confronts Mary with his annunciation of the birth of Jesus. Mary pulls away towards the center of the scene.  In the upper right hand corner is a manger scene in which Jesus lies in his crib, at the far right are two of the wise men who are missing their heads.  The center of the scene Mary reclines in a pose very reminiscent of the Goddesses from Parthenon.  In the lower left foreground of the image is the baptism of Christ (note he's missing his head too.)
The next major difference is in the style and amount of artwork. In general, the Romanesque style is extremely organized, diagrammatic, and stylized. It tends to take cues from Byzantine art, in which the figures' relative size to another figure is based upon its' importance in the spiritual hierarchy. For example, when Jesus or an Angel is shown, they are relatively larger than all the other figures whom are depicted in a particular scene. This shows how important they are, they loom above the mere mortals, faithful and sinners alike. In contrast, the Gothic style of sculpture and art within a cathedral is very much a "schema and correction" of the Romanesque art. While the same themes and saints may be depicted, they are far more naturalistic, shown more or less in proportion often with detailed, flowing robes which harken back to the Greek ideals of art and beauty. For example, in Stokstad on pg. 594, is a depiction of Dormition of the Virgin from the Strasbourg cathedral in France. Jesus, the virgin, and all the followers are all equal in size and proportion, the only thing that shows Jesus as the most important figure is his place n the center and his halo, otherwise he blends in with the others. There also tends to be more of an emphasis on the stories of Jesus in the Gothic cathedrals, whereas the Romanesque cathedrals tended to emphasize not only Jesus, but biblical stories, morality stories, saints, parables, and virtues.Context:  The realism of her pose and drapery demonstrate the beginnings of the heightened realism that occurs during this period.  These classical references are both "classy" but also refer to the new ideas concerning a more humanistic approach towards interpreting scripture.  The naturalism relates more towards the viewer than ever before and it is possible to imagine the scene as something real.

Amiens Cathedral, France 1220-1236 by Robert Deluzarches

Flying Buttresses
Read Stokstad 556-612Form: Cathedrals, in general, were made completely of stone for permanence. The construction of the cathedral, although derived from the basilican plan, is a non-uniform shape.  The addition of the transept and the bays in the apse tend to make the shape fairly irregular.
Structurally, the Gothic Cathedrals differed with their use of huge soaring structures known as 'flying buttresses'. These beautiful structures did for the Gothic Cathedrals what rounded and barrel vaults did for Romanesque churches, supported them, except they were located outside the church. They provided  a sort of exoskeleton (made of stone) for the structure as well as lending a visual sense of fragility and beauty to the look of the church, though in reality they are quite strong. Made of iron rods with stone and concrete encasing them, these buttresses are the main support as well as the main source of architectural beauty for these massive buildings.
As well as sculpture and architecture, the Gothic cathedrals brought about the advent of the 'Rose' style stained glass window. These are enormous glass window n the shape of a 'rose' and found on the facade of the Gothic cathedrals. It is supposed to represent purity, like a rose, and is symbolic of the Virgin Mary. True to Gothic symbolism and the Jesus motif, a rose also has thorns on the stem, which can also be representative of the crown of thorns worn by Jesus as he walked through the streets bearing the cross towards his crucifixion.
Read the brown box at the top of the page in Stokstad, pg. 569,  understand more about the technique of creating a stained glass window and how it developed n use through the ages in churches and cathedrals.

Iconography: Quatrefoils at the base of the cathedral serve a didactic purpose.  The quatrefoils each tell stories. The exterior serves a didactic purpose (teaches about Christianity). According to Stokstad, quatrefoils contain relief sculptures that greet worshippers as they enter the cathedral and are used to tell biblical or morality based stories. These usually focus on the themes of Good vs. Evil, the lives of the saints, biblical allegories as well as seasons of the months.

Context: Construction of cathedrals, such as Amiens' Notre Dame, were a labor of love that went on for decades and sometimes centuries.  Often entire generations of families would be at work on the cathedrals as an expression of transgenerational love for god.

The purpose of Gothic Cathedrals was to make the worshipper feel as thought they were truly in the presence of God. The high, imposing ceilings, awe-inspiring stained glass windows and enormous buttresses dwarfed the worshippers as they entered the building and inspired a sense of awe.They were also monuments to the power of the monarchy of the time and were central fixtures in the urban centers. In this time period, much of daily life revolved around religion and a strict adherence to the will of the laity as well as the ruling monarch. This was the time of the crusades and a widespread religious fervor. 

Interior of Amiens Cathedral
The main two design innovations evinced in Gothic architecture are the perfection and use of the ribbed groin vault and the use of flying buttresses.  Groin vaults needed massive walls to support the side stress created by them. In order to compensate for this and relieve some of the outward thrust of the traditional barrel vaults that one observes in Romanesque architecture, pointed arches were introduced.  These arches change some of the outward thrust to downward thrust.  The pointed arch also allowed for more flexibility in terms of the space that the arch could span. Flying buttresses absorbed the rest of the force generated by the arches.  Flying buttresses are essentially an exoskeleton which take a great deal of the stress off of the inner walls and allow them to be built taller and thinner and with large openings for stained glass windows. 

PSALM 91,He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling --
even the Lord, who is my refuge --
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
(sometimes worded: You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, trample the lion and the dragon.)
"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Form: Carved lintel, between the two doors to the portal of the cathedral.

Iconography: This particular sculpture is filled with symbolism and is a good example of how the importance of Jesus was emphasized in a naturalistic way, rather than the distortion found in Romanesque art. Here, Jesus us shown as higher than his disciples, showing his place in the spiritual hierarchy of Heaven. He holds a book, a symbol of the bible and knowledge of heaven. His hand is in a  gesture of benediction, the symbol of blessing. Here Jesus is shown as a teacher and a spiritual leader. He is placed so that he stands above the city and above mankind.  In the quatrefoils around the cathedral, his importance is shown in depiction's of him entering Jerusalem, larger than the city itself, and a central figure once again. Another quatrefoil shows the last judgment. He is seated with his saints and angels, the primary figure once again, with the damned to his left and the saved to his right.

Context: It must be remembered that the importance of Jesus was prevalent in a Gothic cathedral.  In most any story of Jesus shown, whether it be sculpture or stained glass window, Jesus is the central and most important figure.

Interior of Amiens
Form: This is an interior view of the ceiling in the main part of the cathedral.Iconography: One can easily see the vaulted structure of the ceiling, which not only provides support, but is aesthetically pleasing to see. This type of vaulting is crucial in making the high, soaring ceilings possible, without it, the ceiling would be too heavy and the whole structure would collapse. It also serves  to allow as much light as possible in, giving the cathedral an ethereal glow during the daytime and especially while services are being conducted. Much the same way transcendentalists saw nature as representing the beauty of God, the light pouring into the cathedral reminded worshippers why they were there. Along with the ceiling, almost every part of this area of the cathedral was covered with carving and decoration.This was to make the interior appear valuable and precious. In addition, it was supposed to give the impression of the gates of heaven, which were often characterized as ornate and possessing a beauty that surpassed anything that mankind could create.

Context: It is apparent while looking at this structure that every detail in this cathedral, as well as all the others, was created and decorated for maximum visual impact and impression.  It was made to create a sense of awe in even the most jaded and hardened of sinners.

An outline on Amiens
quoted from Department of Art History and Archaeology
Columbia University
Humanities C1121 - Fine Arts F1121


  1. The gothic cathedral of Amiens was constructed between 1220 and 1269, following the destruction of the old cathedral in 1218; nave chapels, west towers and central steeple are later. Bishop Evrard de Fouilloy initiated the work; the master masons were Robert de Luzarches, Thomas de Cormont and his son Renaud de Cormont. Built of chalk; measures 417' in length and 213' in overall width; crown of interior vaulting rises to 137', the equivalent of 144 royal feet.
  2. Position of the cathedral in the town. Aimens, aquired by the French monarchy in the 1180s, was governed by a commune. Norte-Dame was the seat (cathedra=chair )of the bishop and was served by a chapter of forty cannons. The Gothic cathedral as civic and religious monument.
  3. Plan: cruciform; orientation. Parts of plan: nave, aisles, transepts, crossing, choir, apse, ambulatory, radiating chapels. The plan involves a combination of arithmetic and geometric proportions. The nave bays are modular (squares and double squares); the overall dimensions are derived from the great square placed in the center of the edifice.
  4. Construction: arch and vault; pointed arch and ribbed quadripartite vaults, piers with colonnettes (piliers cantonnés), tower and flying buttresses.
  5. Interior elevation: nave arcade, triforium, clerestory.
  6. Stained glass: lancets, oculi, rose window; space and light; directionality. (The stained glass at Amiens was lost to storms and other destruction before the Frence Revolution; for a cathedral with its original windows, see the comparative material on Chartres.)
  7. Sculptural program: Design and style; location and relation to architecture.
    1. West facade: Last Judgement in tympanum of central portal. Trumeau figures: St. Firmin (parton saint of Amiens), Beau Dieu (Christ), Virgin Mary. Quatrefoils: Labors of the Months, Signs of the Zodiac, Virtues and Vices.
    South transept portal: Vierge Doree--Gothic style of the 1250's.

Claudia Torres
ARTS 1301
Texas A&M International University
An Amazing Gothic Cathedral
When first enrolling for this course, I was hesitant. I did not think I would enjoy any of it and much less find that I would actually be interested in anything that was introduced to us. I have found myself appreciating every piece of art that we have seen, but there has been one piece of architecture that has amazed and inspired me more than any other, and that was the Cathedral of Notre Dame at Amiens, also known as the Cathedral of Amiens. The symbolism found in almost anything you decide to set your eyes on is enough to intrigue anyone. Everything in its interior and exterior is equally heavenly and majestic.

The Cathedral of Amiens was begun in 1220 following the designs of Robert de Luzarches. This cathedral is one of High Gothic style,it has a rectangular-bay system, four-paneled rib vault, and a buttressing system. This aspect of the cathedral is not particularly what amazed me most, but it played an important part interrelating with the decorative work.

The exterior of the Amiens is enough to leave anyone who sees it in awe. It has magnificent detailing and storytelling. The portal contains great detail. At the base one sees quatrefoils that serve to teach. Immediately above the quatrefoils we see the Apostles both to the right and left of Christ who was found at the center. Great work and detail is found in all of this. The quatrefoils are relatively small in comparison and yet there was still room to place figures within them to tell a story/lesson. They were done with such great detail that one can appreciate even the smallest piece of work, down to the facial features and expressions on the angels as well as on all other figures. When you see the Apostles you see a gothic cathedral above their heads symbolizing the dome of heaven. Christ is found at the center and taller than the Apostles to show respect and praise. The bodies of both the Apostles and Christ are deemphasized, all is in the mind. Christ is placed on a mythological creature, representing Psalm 91. Looking straight up, you can see angels on the dome-shaped area of the portal. This Cathedral entailed tremendous amount of work both in structure and the decoration, which is what I like the most. More than the actual decorations, I like what they represent and how it is they came to be.
In a more general view of the exterior; I like the fact that since it took several generations to complete the project, it is not identical. Identical on, for example, both right and left sides of the west façade. The towers have minor differences that I particularly like and find that make it all the more magnificent. The rose window is also something that is extremely beautiful and colorful. This window as well as just about anything in this piece of architecture represents something. The rose symbolizes the Virgin and the rose's thorns symbolize the thorns on Christ's head. From the inside this window lets in light in all the bright colors used. The choir vaults look like they are suspended from above and light is let in through the clerestory.

I have never been devout to my religion, but seeing this immense work of art devoted to Christ sends shivers down my spine. When seeing a picture of the choir vaults I can picture myself there listening to chants in voices that inspire just about anyone who allows themselves to be inspired. In essence, what I liked most about this piece of architecture is that I can feel myself there and not only that, but to some extent feel the presence of Christ as well.


History Painting and Neoclassicism

For all the videos in order with a textbook and study guides please visit:

History Painting and Neoclassicism

In order to understand the political changes that lead to the styles we will be discussing.  Please read the following:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778,

“Everybody is a critic.” and Jean-Jacques Rousseau was no exception to the rule.  Rousseau’s critical view of the world can probably be blamed on his father.  (We all like to do that.)  Rousseau’s father a Swiss born patriot, who had married above his station, abandoned Geneva, his birthplace, after breaking a law which forbid non-noble born individuals to wear swords.  Jean Jacques Rousseau was left behind with his mother’s family (his mother had perished at childbirth) to fend for himself.  By sixteen years old Rousseau had had enough of a bad situation and followed his father’s example.  After a bit of wandering, he became the beneficiary of the attentions of an older woman, the Baronne de Warens, who was colorful person with an equally florid past.  He was employed and educated by her in all respects and under her constant tutelage became a man of letters and of experience.By the age of thirty Rousseau made his way to Paris and made the acquaintance of similarly intellectually adventurous individuals such as Denis Diderot the editor/inventor of the French Encyclopédie (Encyclopedia).  In this fertile climate of enlightened and radical thought Rousseau flourished.  He published political tracts, wrote operas and in general gained the social and intellectual spotlight of the French upper classes.  In a moment of clarity and inspired reflection, Rousseau concluded that modern society was indeed corrupt and the time for change had arrived.  Rousseau’s epiphany led to his evolution as an author and the creation of such politically volatile works as The Social Contract.  Subsequently he fled Paris after some of his works were ordered to be burned by the French government and a warrant for his arrest was issued.

Excerpts from
by Jean Jacques Rousseau
Translated by G. D. H. Cole, public domain
Rendered into HTML and text by Jon Roland of the Constitution Society
Foederis æquas Dicamus leges.
Virgil, Æneid xi.


MAN is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer.
If I took into account only force, and the effects derived from it, I should say: "As long as a people is compelled to obey, and obeys, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does still better; for, regaining its liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it, or there was no justification for those who took it away." But the social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions. Before coming to that, I have to prove what I have just asserted.


THE strongest is never strong enough to be always the master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience into duty. Hence the right of the strongest, which, though to all seeming meant ironically, is really laid down as a fundamental principle. But are we never to have an explanation of this phrase? Force is a physical power, and I fail to see what moral effect it can have. To yield to force is an act of necessity, not of will — at the most, an act of prudence. In what sense can it be a duty?
Suppose for a moment that this so-called "right" exists. I maintain that the sole result is a mass of inexplicable nonsense. For, if force creates right, the effect changes with the cause: every force that is greater than the first succeeds to its right. As soon as it is possible to disobey with impunity, disobedience is legitimate; and, the strongest being always in the right, the only thing that matters is to act so as to become the strongest. But what kind of right is that which perishes when force fails? If we must obey perforce, there is no need to obey because we ought; and if we are not forced to obey, we are under no obligation to do so. Clearly, the word "right" adds nothing to force: in this connection, it means absolutely nothing.
Obey the powers that be. If this means yield to force, it is a good precept, but superfluous: I can answer for its never being violated. All power comes from God, I admit; but so does all sickness: does that mean that we are forbidden to call in the doctor? A brigand surprises me at the edge of a wood: must I not merely surrender my purse on compulsion; but, even if I could withhold it, am I in conscience bound to give it up? For certainly the pistol he holds is also a power.
Let us then admit that force does not create right, and that we are obliged to obey only legitimate powers. In that case, my original question recurs.


I SUPPOSE men to have reached the point at which the obstacles in the way of their preservation in the state of nature show their power of resistance to be greater than the resources at the disposal of each individual for his maintenance in that state. That primitive condition can then subsist no longer; and the human race would perish unless it changed its manner of existence.
But, as men cannot engender new forces, but only unite and direct existing ones, they have no other means of preserving themselves than the formation, by aggregation, of a sum of forces great enough to overcome the resistance. These they have to bring into play by means of a single motive power, and cause to act in concert.
This sum of forces can arise only where several persons come together: but, as the force and liberty of each man are the chief instruments of his self-preservation, how can he pledge them without harming his own interests, and neglecting the care he owes to himself? This difficulty, in its bearing on my present subject, may be stated in the following terms:
"The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before." This is the fundamental problem of which the Social Contract provides the solution.
The clauses of this contract are so determined by the nature of the act that the slightest modification would make them vain and ineffective; so that, although they have perhaps never been formally set forth, they are everywhere the same and everywhere tacitly admitted and recognised, until, on the violation of the social compact, each regains his original rights and resumes his natural liberty, while losing the conventional liberty in favour of which he renounced it.
These clauses, properly understood, may be reduced to one — the total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole community; for, in the first place, as each gives himself absolutely, the conditions are the same for all; and, this being so, no one has any interest in making them burdensome to others.
Moreover, the alienation being without reserve, the union is as perfect as it can be, and no associate has anything more to demand: for, if the individuals retained certain rights, as there would be no common superior to decide between them and the public, each, being on one point his own judge, would ask to be so on all; the state of nature would thus continue, and the association would necessarily become inoperative or tyrannical.
Finally, each man, in giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; and as there is no associate over whom he does not acquire the same right as he yields others over himself, he gains an equivalent for everything he loses, and an increase of force for the preservation of what he has.
If then we discard from the social compact what is not of its essence, we shall find that it reduces itself to the following terms:
"Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole."
At once, in place of the individual personality of each contracting party, this act of association creates a moral and collective body, composed of as many members as the assembly contains votes, and receiving from this act its unity, its common identity, its life and its will. This public person, so formed by the union of all other persons formerly took the name ofcity,4 and now takes that of Republic or body politic; it is called by its members State when passive. Sovereign when active, and Power when compared with others like itself. Those who are associated in it take collectively the name of people, and severally are called citizens, as sharing in the sovereign power, and subjects, as being under the laws of the State. But these terms are often confused and taken one for another: it is enough to know how to distinguish them when they are being used with precision.


THIS formula shows us that the act of association comprises a mutual undertaking between the public and the individuals, and that each individual, in making a contract, as we may say, with himself, is bound in a double capacity; as a member of the Sovereign he is bound to the individuals, and as a member of the State to the Sovereign. But the maxim of civil right, that no one is bound by undertakings made to himself, does not apply in this case; for there is a great difference between incurring an obligation to yourself and incurring one to a whole of which you form a part.
Attention must further be called to the fact that public deliberation, while competent to bind all the subjects to the Sovereign, because of the two different capacities in which each of them may be regarded, cannot, for the opposite reason, bind the Sovereign to itself; and that it is consequently against the nature of the body politic for the Sovereign to impose on itself a law which it cannot infringe. Being able to regard itself in only one capacity, it is in the position of an individual who makes a contract with himself; and this makes it clear that there neither is nor can be any kind of fundamental law binding on the body of the people — not even the social contract itself. This does not mean that the body politic cannot enter into undertakings with others, provided the contract is not infringed by them; for in relation to what is external to it, it becomes a simple being, an individual.
But the body politic or the Sovereign, drawing its being wholly from the sanctity of the contract, can never bind itself, even to an outsider, to do anything derogatory to the original act, for instance, to alienate any part of itself, or to submit to another Sovereign. Violation of the act by which it exists would be self-annihilation; and that which is itself nothing can create nothing.
As soon as this multitude is so united in one body, it is impossible to offend against one of the members without attacking the body, and still more to offend against the body without the members resenting it. Duty and interest therefore equally oblige the two contracting parties to give each other help; and the same men should seek to combine, in their double capacity, all the advantages dependent upon that capacity.
Again, the Sovereign, being formed wholly of the individuals who compose it, neither has nor can have any interest contrary to theirs; and consequently the sovereign power need give no guarantee to its subjects, because it is impossible for the body to wish to hurt all its members. We shall also see later on that it cannot hurt any in particular. The Sovereign, merely by virtue of what it is, is always what it should be.
This, however, is not the case with the relation of the subjects to the Sovereign, which, despite the common interest, would have no security that they would fulfil their undertakings, unless it found means to assure itself of their fidelity.
In fact, each individual, as a man, may have a particular will contrary or dissimilar to the general will which he has as a citizen. His particular interest may speak to him quite differently from the common interest: his absolute and naturally independent existence may make him look upon what he owes to the common cause as a gratuitous contribution, the loss of which will do less harm to others than the payment of it is burdensome to himself; and, regarding the moral person which constitutes the State as a persona ficta, because not a man, he may wish to enjoy the rights of citizenship without being ready to fulfil the duties of a subject. The continuance of such an injustice could not but prove the undoing of the body politic.
In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.

1. "Learned inquiries into public right are often only the history of past abuses; and troubling to study them too deeply is a profitless infatuation" (Essay on the Interests of France in Relation to its Neighbours, by the Marquis d'Argenson). This is exactly what Grotius has done.
2. See a short treatise of Plutarch's entitled That Animals Reason.
3. The Romans, who understood and respected the right of war more than any other nation on earth, carried their scruples on this head so far that a citizen was not allowed to serve as a volunteer without engaging himself expressly against the enemy, and against such and such an enemy by name. A legion in which the younger Cato was seeing his first service under Popilius having been reconstructed, the elder Cato wrote to Popilius that, if he wished his son to continue serving under him, he must administer to him a new military oath, because, the first having been annulled, he was no longer able to bear arms against the enemy. The same Cato wrote to his son telling him to take great care not to go into battle before taking this new oath. I know that the siege of Clusium and other isolated events can be quoted against me; but I am citing laws and customs. The Romans are the people that least often transgressed its laws; and no other people has had such good ones.
4. The real meaning of this word has been almost wholly lost in modern times; most people mistake a town for a city, and a townsman for a citizen. They do not know that houses make a town, but citizens a city. The same mistake long ago cost the Carthaginians dear. I have never read of the title of citizens being given to the subjects of any prince, not even the ancient Macedonians or the English of to-day, though they are nearer liberty than any one else. The French alone everywhere familiarly adopt the name of citizens, because, as can be seen from their dictionaries, they have no idea of its meaning; otherwise they would be guilty in usurping it, of the crime of lèse-majesté: among them, the name expresses a virtue, and not a right. When Bodin spoke of our citizens and townsmen, he fell into a bad blunder in taking the one class for the other. M. d'Alembert has avoided the error, and, in his article on Geneva, has clearly distinguished the four orders of men (or even five, counting mere foreigners) who dwell in our town, of which two only compose the Republic. No other French writer, to my knowledge, has understood the real meaning of the word citizen.
5. Under bad governments, this equality is only apparent and illusory: it serves only to-keep the pauper in his poverty and the rich man in the position he has usurped. In fact, laws are always of use to those who possess and harmful to those who have nothing: from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all have something and none too much.

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"Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole."
How is the above passage, quoted from Rousseau’s Social Contract, echoed in the paintings by Jacques Louis David or Angelika Kauffman?
How does the organization of the text of the Social Contract reflect “enlightened” thinking?

Benjamin West, Death of General Wolfe. 1770
Oil on canvas, 60 in. x 84 1/2 in. (152.6 cm x 214.5 cm). 
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. 
Transfer from the Canadian War Memorials, 1921 
(gift of the Second Duke of Westminster, 
Eaton Hall, Cheshire, 1918). 
British History Painting
Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper, 1495-7 Milan, 
Santa Maria delle Grazie 
Nicolas Poussin, 'Et in Arcadia Ego' 1637-39 
Oil on canvas, 185 x 121 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris
"I am here in Arcadia too"
French, Baroque (Learned to paint in Italy)
Form:  Although the composition is overtly symmetrical the visual weight of the composition seems to run in a strong diagonal from the lower left hand corner of the image up through the flagpole and then into the smoky clouds in the upper right hand section of the painting.The flag and the murky gunpowder clouds create a strong diagonal across the picture plane which moves the eyes from the upper left hand corner towards the Native American in the lower left. The figures including the Indian, all share in the same combination of gestures and movements in a similar manner to Leonardo's Last Supper.
The composition is also arranged in a similar manner to Grueze's and Poussin's paintings.  Like its Baroque French counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures.
This painting returns to a Baroque sensibility in terms of its lighting, composition and movement.  West uses tenebrism and chiaroscuro liberally and the spotlight is on the figure placed with in a Leonaroesque pyramid.
Iconography and Context according to art critic Robert Hughes,
The arts in America did not bring forth anything much new at first, except for mid- to late-18th century furniture--and one work by Benjamin West. When he was 12, West (1738-1820) announced that his talent would make him the "companion of kings and emperors." And as a matter of fact, it did: after he settled in England in 1763, he became George III's favorite artist. His definitive work was The Death of General Wolfe, 1770. It was a history painting but recent history, recounting a British victory over the French at the Battle of Quebec only a decade earlier. And it was in "modern," late-18th century dress. It changed the English sense of decorum in heroic commemoration, the idea of what history painting could do. In the Battle of Quebec in 1759, the British commander, Major General James Wolfe, was killed at the moment of victory over the French. West's painting depicts the hero receiving the news just as he expires. Until West created this work, history painting had required togas and other accoutrements of antiquity. West's use of contemporary 18th century dress set off a storm of controversy, and his retort to his critics became famous. The siege of Quebec, he pointed out, took place "in a region of the world unknown to the Greeks and Romans...when no such nations, nor heroes in their costumes, any longer existed... The same truth that guides the pen of the historian should govern the pencil of the artist." There spoke the Natural Man from the New World, pragmatic, realistic--though, in fact, West's painting was very far from realist. 
Time, Spring97 Special Issue, Vol. 149 Issue 17, p76, 10p, 10c 
Author(s): Hughes, Robert 

John Singleton Copley,"Watson and the Shark" (1778),
 Form:  Most history paintings share in many of the same formal elements.  They also share these same elements with the Neoclassical style except for in the subject matter and clothing.As in West's, Death of General Wolfe. 1770, this painting also returns to a Baroque sensibility in terms of its lighting, composition and movement.  Copley uses tenebrism and chiaroscuro liberally and the spotlight is on the figure placed with in a Leonaroesque pyramid.
Again a strong diagonal runs through the image and the figures all share in the same combination of gestures and movements in a similar manner to Leonardo's Last Supper.
The composition is also arranged in a similar manner to West's, Grueze's and Poussin's paintings.  Like its counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures.
John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark was inspired by an event that took place in Havana, Cuba, in 1749. Fourteen-year-old Brook Watson, an orphan serving as a crew member on a trading ship, was attacked by a shark while swimming alone in the harbor. His shipmates, who had been waiting on board to escort their captain ashore, launched a valiant rescue effort. 
What is interesting and an element shared with West's painting is the depiction of the main character or hero as a martyr very similar to Renaissance depictions of Jesus.  The non-European are represented in a less flattering and almost subjugating light.  In West's painting we see the depiction of the Native American and in Copley's painting the Afro-Cuban man in the back of the boat.  Historians sometimes refer to these depictions as depicting "The Other."These depictions of the so called "Other" might be interpreted as a justification for colonialism and some of the racism that justifies it.  In each of these images the Other is depicted as actionless and almost useless.  The Indian, who is literally below everyone else, gazes on Wolfe almost as if he cannot comprehend what is happening.  Likewise, the Afro-Cuban in Copley's painting is cast in a similar inactive role and relegated to the rear of the picture plane.
Context according to the Brittanica,
John Singleton Copley
b. July 3, 1738, Boston [Mass., U.S.]
d. Sept. 9, 1815, London, Eng.
American painter of portraits and historical subjects, generally acclaimed as the finest artist of colonial America.Little is known of Copley's boyhood. He developed within a flourishing school of colonial portraiture, and it was as a portraitist that he reached the high point of his art, and--as his Boston portraits later revealed--he gained an intimate knowledge of his New England subjects and milieu and was able to convey a powerful sense of physical entity and directness--real people seen as they are. From his stepfather, the limner and engraver Peter Pelham, Copley gained familiarity with graphic art as well as an early sense of vocation. Before he was 20 he was an accomplished draughtsman. To the Rococo portrait style derived from the English painter Joseph Blackburn he brought his own powers of imagination and a technical ability surpassing anyone painting in America at the time. Copley, in his portraits, made eloquent use of a Rococo device, the portrait d'apparat--portraying the subject with the objects associated with him in his daily life--that gave his work a liveliness and acuity not usually associated with 18th-century American painting.
Although he was steadily employed with commissions from the Boston bourgeoisie, Copley wanted to test himself against the more exacting standards of Europe. In 1766, therefore, he exhibited "Boy with a Squirrel" at the Society of Artists in London. It was highly praised both by Sir Joshua Reynolds and by Copley's countryman Benjamin West. Copley married in 1769. Although he did not venture out of Boston except for a seven-month stay in New York City (June 1771-January 1772), he was urged by fellow artists who were familiar with his work to study in Europe. When political and economic conditions in Boston began to deteriorate (Copley's father-in-law was the merchant to whom the tea that provoked the Boston Tea Party was consigned), Copley left the country--never to return--in June 1774. In 1775 his wife, children, and several other family members arrived in London, and Copley established a home there in 1776.
His ambitions in Europe went beyond portraiture; he was eager to make a success in the more highly regarded sphere of historical painting. In his first important work, "Watson and the Shark" (1778), Copley used what was to become one of the great themes of 19th-century Romantic art, the struggle of man against nature. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1779. Although his English paintings grew more academically sophisticated and self-conscious, in general they lacked the extraordinary vitality and penetrating realism of his Boston portraits. Toward the end of his life, his physical and mental health grew worse. Though he continued to paint with considerable success until the last few months of his life, he was obsessed by the sale (at a loss) of his Boston property and by his increasing debts.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.


neo.clas.sic or neo.clas.si.cal adj (1877): of, relating to, or constituting a revival or adaptation of the classical esp. in literature, music, art, or architecture -- neo.clas.si.cism n -- neo.clas.si.cist n or adj

Jacques Louis David  Oath of the Horatii-1784
oil on canvas, 10'x14' Louvre Museum, Paris
French Neoclassicism
Ara Pacis Augustae 13-9 BCE

Jean Antoine Watteau. 
Pilgrimage to the Island of Cythera. 1717
oil/canvas 4'3"x6'4" Louvres, Paris
French Rococo
Form:  This painting is rendered in a very slick and detailed fashion.  No brushstrokes are visible in David's paintings.  Although photography hadn't been invented yet, this painting recalls the photo realistic surfaces and textures of Jan Van Eyck's paintings.  This is quite a change from the feathery rough strokes of the Rococo period.The overall design of this image reflects a Neoclassical sense of composition and a Renaissance sense of perspective.
The picture plane is arranged in a sculptural frieze like band that takes its cue from antique sculptural friezes such as those found on the Ara Pacis and the Parthenon.  Like its classical counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures. 
It is also classic in that the composition is arranged symmetrically with the most important figure, proclaiming the oath, in the center.  The use of perspective also focusses on this figure.
David's work also exhibits a Caravaggesque flair for chiaroscuro and tenebrism.
Iconography:  Stokstad goes into the specific story of the Curattii and the Horatii and so this next section will be dedicated to some other aspects of the image.
The super realistic quality of this image is meant to make it a convincing and serious image.  Likewise other formal aspects such as lighting, texture and composition are iconic in this image.
The use of classical imagery, such as the togas and arches, and a story that deals specifically with self sacrifice for the state allowed this painting to be used as a "call to arms" for the French Revolution that followed.  The classical clothing and arches referred to a tradition that was considered more dignified than the light classical themes expressed in paintings like Watteau's.
The lighting and the frieze like placement of the figures are equally a part of the iconography of this image because these formal elements directly refer to those classical traditions.  Compare Watteau's style of painting and see how the formal qualities of each actually are part of the iconography.
The individuals being represented are also all physically beautiful and this refers to the classical concept of kalos(Greek for beautiful and moral.)
Another aspect of this image is the depiction of women in this painting which seems consistent with the depiction of the "Other" in the two history paintings we've looked at.  The woman who are betrothed to the soldiers and the children have the most to lose and they are also the least powerful.  This is expressed through there placement, below the horizon line in the picture plane.  Like West's Native American they are literally beneath every one else and relegated to the margins of the scene.


Jacques-Louis David  Oath of the Horatii-1784
oil on canvas, 10'x14' Louvre Museum, Paris
French Neoclassicism
Form:  The composition of this painting is organized in a clear symmetrical format in which all the attention is focused on the center of the image on the three swords the central figure holds aloft. The three arches organize the composition in such a way that it is meant to be read from left to right, almost as if it is a triptych from Renaissance Italian painting.
The composition is also modeled on classical Greek or Roman relief sculpture as one would find on the Ara Pacis or the friezes of the Parthenon.  The painting space is literally modeled after figures in the composition in Greco Roman relief sculptures in that their is very little background and the figures, which are somewhat spot lit stand out from a very sparse background.  The Roman arches are also meant to be read sculpturally.
The style in which David painted this is very hard edged and realistic, although painted before the invention of photography, this painting seems to look almost photographic.
Iconography:  Everything about this painting is meant to refer to the classical world.  The formal elements and clothing clearly look classic (sometimes referred to as "antique") but the actual content of the image also refers to a historical event as well.
According to the Brittanica:
The Horatii were a Roman legend, two sets of triplet brothers whose story was probably fashioned to explain existing legal or ritual practices. The Horatii were Roman and the Curiatii Alban, although an alternative version reversed this order. During the war between Rome and Alba Longa in the reign of Tullus Hostilius (traditionally 672-642 BC), it was agreed that settlement of the dispute should depend on the outcome of combat between the two groups of brothers.
In the contest two of the Horatii were quickly killed; but the third, feigning flight, managed to slay his wounded pursuers one by one. When the survivor entered Rome in triumph, his sister recognized among his trophies a cloak she had made for one of the Curiatii to whom she was betrothed. She could not conceal her grief and was killed by her brother, who declared, "So perish any Roman woman who mourns the enemy." For this act Horatius was condemned to death, but he was saved by an appeal to the people.
The tale might have been devised to provide an august origin for the legal practice that granted every condemned Roman the right to appeal to the populace. Alternatively, perhaps it was used to explain the ritual of the tigillum sororium ("sister's beam"), the yoke under which Horatius had to pass to be purified of his crime.
Context:  David probably painted this as a "call to arms" for his fellow Frenchmen.  David probably interpreted the story of the Horatii as the ultimate tale of patriotism and sacrifice, o ne which he believed the French people needed to learn a message from.  In some ways, David was one of the leaders and propagandists for the French revolution and his paintings were seen almost as lessons or advertisements to the French citizens to act in a self-sacrificing manner and also to suggest some sorts of reforms in French government based on classical ideas such as those found in Republican Rome above and also those found in Athens during it's "Golden Age".

Jacques-Louis David Oath Tennis Court 1791
Form: The drawing on the left is an unfinished sketch made by David to commemorate and plan a larger painting of the same theme.  There are some unfinished paintings based on this drawing as well.Iconography and Context:  The people represented in this drawing were some of the people who took the famous "Oath of the Tennis Court" which according to the Brittanica, was a 
(June 20, 1789), dramatic act of defiance by representatives of the non privileged classes of the French nation (the Third Estate) during the meeting of the Estates-General (traditional assembly) at the beginning of the French Revolution. The deputies of the Third Estate, realizing that in any attempt at reform they would be outvoted by the two privileged orders, the clergy and the nobility, had formed, on June 17, a National Assembly. Finding themselves locked out of their usual meeting hall at Versailles on June 20 and thinking that the king was forcing them to disband, they moved to a nearby tennis court. There they took an oath never to separate until a written constitution had been established for France. In the face of the solidarity of the Third Estate, King Louis XVI relented and on June 27 ordered the clergy and the nobility to join with the Third Estate in the National Assembly.
Many of the people represented in the drawing and subsequent paintings however, were not on hand and David would add or subtract individuals from his drawing and the subsequent paintings as some rose and others fell out of political power.
David Oath Tennis Court 1791
Form:  This is just a sketch because David never had a chance to complete the painting.  The overall design of this image reflects a Neoclassical sense of composition and a Renaissance sense of perspective.
The picture plane is arranged symmetrically with the most important figure, proclaiming the oath, in the center.  The use of perspective also focusses on this figure.
Iconography:  This painting was meant to be a patriotic call to arms but was never completed because the cast of characters kept changing and David was probably unsure as to how to complete it.  There is an unfinished oil version of it.
This amazingly rich sketch by Jacques Louis David is one of the most famous works from the French revolutionary era. The thrust of the bodies together and toward the center stand for unity. The spectators, including children at the top right, all join the spectators. Even the clergy, so villified later, join in the scene. Only one person, possibly Marat, in the upper left–hand corner, turns his back on the celebration. And, in fact, David is commemorating a great moment of the Revolution on 20 June 1789, in which the deputies, mainly those of the Third Estate, now proclaiming that they represent the nation, stand together against a threatened dispersal. 
The Tennis Court Oath was a result of the growing discontent of the Third Estate in France in the face of King Louis XVI's desire to hold on to the country's history of absolute government. The deputies of the Third Estate were coming together for a meeting to discuss the reforms proposed by Necker, the Prime Minister. These reforms called for the meeting of all the Estates together and to have vote by head instead of by estate. This would have given the Third Estate at least nominally a stronger voice in the Estates General. The men of the Third Estate were ardent supporters of the reforms, and they were anxious to discuss these measures. When the members of the Third Estate arrived at their assigned meeting hall, Menus Plaisirs, they found it locked against them. The deputies believed that this was a blatant attempt by Louis XVI to end their demands for reform and they were further incensed at the King's duplicity. Refusing to be held down by their King any longer, the deputies did not break up. Instead they moved their meeting to a nearby indoor tennis court.
A debate quickly ensued about how the Third Estate was going to protect themselves from those in positions of authority who wanted to destroy them. Some deputies believed that they should retreat to Paris where the people would be more likely to protect them from the King's army. Mounier warned that such a step would be blatantly revolutionary and politically dangerous. Therefore, Mounier proposed that the Third Estate adopt an oath of allegiance. The proposed oath was to read that they would remain assembled until a constitution had been written, meeting wherever it was required and resisting pressures form the outside to disband. The proposal was a success and the later named Tennis Court Oath was promptly written and immediately signed by 577 (only one man, Martin Dauch, refused, saying that he could not do anything which his King had not sanctioned).
The Tennis Court Oath was an assertion that sovereignty of the people did not reside in the King, but in the people themselves and their representatives. It was the first assertion of revolutionary authority by the Third Estate and it united virtually all its members to common action. It's success can be seen in the fact that a scant week later Louis XVI called for a meeting together of the Estates General for the purpose of writing a constitution.

Jacques-Louis David.Death of Marat. 1793.
oil on canvas, 5'5"x4'2" 
Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels
French Neoclassicism
Form: This painting is a depiction of a nude man who is slumped down into a cloth draped bathtub on which a board has been placed across as an impromptu kind of desk.  He holds in hands, a letter on which the name "Charlotte Corday" is clearly written.  He has a small would just under his collar bone and a knife lies in the forground of the image.The anatomy of the the figure is idealized and very muscular and almost appears to mimic the idealized muscular structure of Greco Roman sculpture.
The composition is also modeled on classical Greek or Roman relief sculpture as one would find on the Ara Pacis or the friezes of theParthenon.  The painting space is literally modeled after figures in the composition in Greco Roman relief sculptures in that their is very little background and the figures, which are somewhat spot lit stand out from a very sparse background.
In terms of value structure David is very much of a caravaggisti in this painting.  He uses tenebrism and heightened chiaroscuro. 
The style in which David painted this is very hard edged and realistic, although painted before the invention of photography, this painting seems to look almost photographic.
Context: According to the Brittanica, 
On July 13, Charlotte Corday, a young Girondin supporter from Normandy, was admitted to Jean-Paul Marat's room on the pretext that she wished to claim his protection and stabbed him to death in his bath (he took frequent medicinal baths to relieve a skin infection). Marat's dramatic murder at the very moment of the Montagnards' triumph over their opponents caused him to be considered a martyr to the people's cause. His name was given to 21 French towns and, later, as a gesture symbolizing the continuity between the French and Russian revolutions, to one of the first battleships in the Soviet Navy.
Iconography:  This image depicts Marat as a martyr for the French Revolution and has often been referred to as the "pietà of the Revolution."  This was entirely intentional on the part of David who uses light in much the same way as Caravaggio does to symbolize "enlightenment" or divine light.  The dramatic lighting and references to the heroic classic past are meant to elevate and heroicize Marat as a figure who died in the service of something greater than himself.  The depiction of his body as also heroic is a direct reference to the idea of kalos in ancient Greek art.

David, Death of Socrates, 1787
Form: The anatomy of the the figures are idealized and very muscular and mimic the idealized muscular structure of Greco Roman sculpture.The composition is also modeled on classical Greek or Roman relief sculpture as one would find on the Ara Pacis or the friezes of the Parthenon.  The painting space is literally modeled after figures in the composition in Greco Roman relief sculptures in that their is very little background and the figures, which are somewhat spot lit stand out from a very sparse background.
In terms of value structure David is very much of a caravaggisti in this painting.  He uses tenebrism and heightened chiaroscuro. 
The style in which David painted this is very hard edged and realistic, although painted before the invention of photography, this painting seems to look almost photographic.
Iconography and Context: According to: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/neocl_dav_soc.html
At the height of his youthful popularity and enthusiasm, part of a close circle of friends (including Chernier, Lafayette and Lavoisier) who were pushing for radical political reform, David painted this unusual historical picture in 1787. Commissioned by the Trudaine de Montigny brothers, leaders in the call for a free market system and more public discussion, this picture depicts the closing moments of the life of Socrates. Condemned to death or exile by the Athenian government for his teaching methods which aroused scepticism and impiety in his students, Socrates heroicly rejected exile and accepted death from hemlock.For months, David and his friends debated and discussed the importance of this picture. It was to be another father figure (like the Horatii and Brutus), unjustly condemned but who sacrifices himself for an abstract principle. By contrasting the movements of the energetic but firmly controlled Socrates, and his swooning disciples, through the distribution of light and dark accents, David transforms what might have been only a fashionable picture of martyrdom to a clarion call for nobility and self-control even in the face of death.
Here the philosopher continues to speak even while reaching for the cup, demonstrating his indifference to death and his unyielding commitment to his ideals. Most of his disciplines and slaves swirl around him in grief, betraying the weakness of emotionalism. His wife is seen only in the distance leaving the prison. Only Plato, at the foot of the bed and Crito grasping his master's leg, seem in control of themselves.
For contemporaries the scene could only call up memories of the recently abandoned attempt at reform, the dissolution of the Assembly of Notables in 1787, and the large number of political prisoners in the king's jails or in exile. David certainly intended this scene as a rebuke to cringing souls. On the eve of the Revolution, this picture served as a trumpet call to duty, and resistance to unjust authority. Thomas Jefferson was present at its unveiling, and admired it immensly. Sir Joshua Reynolds compared the Socrates with Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling and Raphael's Stanze, and after ten visits to the Salon described it as `in every sense perfect'.

David Death of Socrates 1787

Classical Greek 
bronze w/ bone, glass paste, 
silver & copper inlaid,h. 200cm 
Reggio Calabria: Museo Nazionale

Horatio Greenough 
George Washington (1804)
American Neoclassical

Raphael School of Athens 1509-1510
Form:  The overall design of this image reflects a Neoclassical sense of composition and a Renaissance sense of perspective.The picture plane is arranged in a sculptural frieze like band that takes its cue from antique sculptural friezes such as those found on the Ara Pacis and the Parthenon.  Like its classical counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures. 
It is also classic in that the composition is arranged symmetrically with the most important figure, proclaiming the oath, in the center.  The use of perspective also focusses on this figure.
David's work also exhibits a Caravaggesque flair for chiaroscuro and tenebrism.
Iconography:  This image uses all of the classical iconography we see in Oath of the Horattii but David adds to it by depicting Socrates as bearded and aged but with a youthful and beautiful torso much like The Young Warrior from Riace (c 460-450 BCE).  The juxtaposition of the beard which symbolizes youth against the body, which symbolizes kalos (Greek for beautiful and moral. Is a way of portraying Socrates as an ideal philosopher.  Davis also quotes Raphael's School of Athens to demonstrate that Socrates is dying for a higher ideal. Notice that even in America this same iconography was used for this portrait of George Washington.
The story of the Socrates death is extremely relevant and echoes many of the same qualities and aspects of David's Oath.  Socrates who lived in Athens in the fifth century was one of the greatest philosophers to have lived.  Primarily his function was to teach the aristocratic youths of Athens how to think and he did this by asking his students questions.  The types of questions he asked were consistently those of the "why" variety in which he often challenged the status quo.  For this and other reasons he was accused of treason by the Athenians.  The accusation leveled at him was that he was corrupting the youth of Athens with his credo "question authority."
According to the Brittanica,
In 399 Socrates was indicted for "impiety." The author of the proceedings was the influential Anytus, one of the two chiefs of the democrats restored by the counterrevolution of 403; but the nominal prosecutor was the obscure and insignificant Meletus. There were two counts in the accusation, "corruption of the young" and "neglect of the gods whom the city worships and the practice of religious novelties." Socrates, who treated the charge with contempt and made a "defense" that amounts to avowal and justification, was convicted, probably by 280 votes against 220. The prosecutors had asked for the penalty of death; it now rested with the accused to make a counterproposition. Though a smaller, but substantial, penalty would have been accepted, Socrates took the high line that he really merited the treatment of an eminent benefactor: maintenance at the public table. He consented only for form's sake to suggest the small fine of one mina, raised at the entreaty of his friends to 30.The claim to be a public benefactor incensed the court, and death was voted by an increased majority, a result with which Socrates declared himself well content. As a rule at Athens, the condemned man "drank the hemlock" within 24 hours, but, in the case of Socrates, the fact that no execution could take place during the absence of the sacred ship sent yearly to Delos caused an unexpected delay of a month, during which Socrates remained in prison, receiving his friends daily and conversing with them in his usual manner. An escape was planned by his friend Crito, but Socrates refused to hear of it, on the grounds that the verdict, though contrary to fact, was that of a legitimate court and must therefore be obeyed. The story of his last day, with his drinking of the hemlock, has been perfectly told in the Phaedo of Plato, who, though not himself an eyewitness, was in close touch with many of those who were present.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Socrates choice to drink the hemlock is portrayed by David.  Why do you think he chose to depict this scene and why?

Horatio Greenough George Washington (1841)
(Installed in the Rotunda 1841 and moved to the east Capitol Grounds in 1844. Transferred to Smithsonian Institution in 1908.)
American Neoclassical
Form: The anatomy of the the figure is idealized and very muscular and almost appears to mimic the idealized muscular structure of Greco Roman sculpture.Iconography: Clearly Greenough was using the iconography and symbolism established by neoclassical artists in the 19th century.  Here Washingston literally looks like a Greek god which is meant to canonnize him.
The hand pointing up is almost certainly a reference to Rafael's depiction of Plato from the "School of Athens."
Context: According to Jean K. Rosales and Michael R. Jobe (http://www.kittytours.org/thatman2/search.asp?subject=18)
Congress made seven attempts to honor George Washington (1732-1799); this was Try Number 4. In 1832, Greenough was commissioned to design a statue of General Washington standing, but chose to model his statue on a statue of the Greek God Zeus. There may have been some method in his madness.
The original Mills design for the Washington Monument would have included a Greek temple on top of which there was supposed to be a statue of George Washington driving a six-horse chariot. A close examination of the artist's rendering of this design indicates that the Greenough statue looks amazingly like the Mills chariot driver.
One suspects he was seeking a larger commission, since acceptance of this statue would have also generated the commission for the six horses. This theory helps to explain the very awkward position of Washington's left hand -- it was supposed to be holding the reins of the chariot.
The statue is made of 12 tons of white marble and is so heavy it began to crack the floor of the Rotunda in the Capitol when it was installed there in 1841. It was moved to the East Front of the Capitol in 1843 and travelled around the grounds of the Hill until it was finally presented to the Museum of History and Technology (now the American History Museum).
 2001 Jean K. Rosales and Michael R. Jobe, All Rights Reserved

Angelika Kauffman Cornelia's Jewels 1785
oil on canvas 40"x50" Fine Arts Museum of Richmond Virginia
Swiss but worked in England, Neoclassical History Painting
-for an English patron
-Neoclassical history painting, subjects drawn from classical antiquity (Age of Reason, contemplation)
-the story takes place in the second century BCE, during the Republican era of Rome (Roman history)
-a woman visitor has been showing Cornelia her jewels and then requests to see those of her hostess; Cornelia turns to her sons and says that these are her most precious jewels
-Cornelia exemplifies the “good mother” (popular subject in late eighteenth century)
-in the reforming spirit of the Enlightenment – depicted subjects that would teach lessons in virtue (didactic paintings)
-the value of Cornelia’s maternal dedication is emphasized by the fact that under her loving care the sons grew up to be political reformers
-setting = simple (like the message), but the effect of the whole is softened by the warm, subdued lighting and by the tranquil grace of the leading charactersBiography:
Swiss prodigy, Maria Anna Catharina Angelica Kauffmann had an established reputation as an artist and musician by the age of eleven. Her father taught her and also accompanied her to Italy where she studied and continued to create her Rococo-style paintings. Kauffmann moved to London in 1766 and met Sir Joshua Reynolds. She helped to found the Royal Academy in 1769 and married fellow artist, Antonio Zucchi. The couple moved to his home country of Italy and settled in Rome. In addition to her many portraits, several of Kauffmann’s great works were the decorations at St. Paul’s and the Royal Academy’s lecture room at Somerset House.
Notice how the painting above was based on the work below.

Stele of Hegeso
c.410-400 BC, Marble, 5'9"
Athens. Classic
Form:  This stele is rendered in style very similar to the Nike parapet.  The two female figures are rendered in profile right against the front of the picture plane.  The figures inhabit what looks to be a post and lintel temple which gives the viewer the sense of an environment.  Each woman is idealized physically through the use of wet drapery.  The folds of each dress accent the protruding knees and fluid bodies.  The anatomy of their faces is naturalistic with some idealized features as well.  An example of this is the bridge of the noses is representing as a straight line, a minor distortion of how noses fit in with the geography of the face: the bridge is usually slightly curved at the top.  This aquiline feature is referred to as the Greek nose.Iconography:  Scenes like this are called genre, or everyday, scenes.  This is a scene of everyday life in which a maid brings a jewelry box to her mistress and she examines her trophies.  This kind of scene, which is often referred to as the "Mistress and Maid" motif is one that can also be found on vases as well as steles.  It can best be interpreted as a typical scene of upper class feminine pursuits.  The maid, the jewels, the chair, and the implied literacy of the visitors to the grave by the inscription on the lintel, are emblems of economic power that compliment the seated woman's beauty and status. (Compare this to the iconography of vases that depict two males such as in the Exekias vase.)
Context:  This stele was used as a grave marker and is probably an attempt by the artist and the people who commissioned it to make an idealized portrait of the represented, seated woman, buried in this grave. 

Jacques Louis David, Madame Recamier 1800
Form: This is an unfinished painting which demonstrates David's process of building up glazes to create finished and polished surfaces. The figure in the foreground is finished and she reclines in a Roman style dress on a Roman style couch that interior designers now call the Recamier.  The background shows the splotchy burnt siennas and umbers that David started with in order to build up the surfaces to an almost photographic and slick surface.
Iconography:  This portrait uses the Neoclassical style to elevate the importance of the sitter and give her a more authoritative quality.  It also refers to the sitter's taste.
Context: According to the Brittanica Madame Recamier was,
b. Dec. 4, 1777, Lyon
d. May 11, 1849, Paris 
née Bernard, byname MADAME DE RÉCAMIER French hostess of great charm and wit whose salon attracted most of the important political and literary figures of early 19th-century Paris. 
She was the daughter of a prosperous banker and was convent educated. In 1792 she joined her father in Paris and within the year married a wealthy banker.
Mme de Récamier began to entertain widely, and her salon soon became a fashionable gathering place for the great and near-great in politics and the arts. Its habitués included many former Royalists and others, such as Bernadotte (later Charles XIV of Sweden and Norway) and Gen. Jean Moreau, who were opposed to the government of Napoleon. In 1805 Napoleon's policies caused her husband major financial losses, and in the same year Napoleon ordered her exiled from Paris. She stayed with her good friend Mme de Staël in Geneva and then went to Rome (1813) and Naples. A literary portrait of Mme de Récamier can be found in the novel Corinne, written by Mme de Staël during this period.
She returned to Paris following Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815 but again suffered financial losses. Despite her reduced circumstances after 1819, she maintained her salon and continued to receive visitors at the Abbaye-aux-Bois, an old Paris convent in which she took a separate suite. In her later years the French author and political figure François Chateaubriand became her constant companion, as well as the central figure in her salon, where he read from his works. While her admirers had included many famous and powerful men, none obtained so great an influence over her as Chateaubriand. There are two well-known portraits of Mme de Récamier, by J.-L. David and François Gérard.


Jacques-Germain Soufflot. Pantheon 1755-92
Begun in 1757 as the Church of Sainte-Geneviève, the Pantheon is now a civic building housing the remains of some of France's most famous citizens. 
Form: Notice how all the buildings on this page reflect the basic schemas established by the original Pantheon and incorporate some very Vitruvian ideas into their design.  Each of these structures incorporates a similar symmetrical design, the use of columns and classical entablatures. I some instances the strctures incorporate the sue of local materials such as in Jefferson's Monticello or change the basic schema of the domes shape as in Chiswick houses octaganol dome.
Iconography:  All of these architects and builders used the same classical Pantheon like schema as a means to express some sort of authority and "class."
Context: According to the Brittanica,
In France a reaction against the Rococo style began in the 1740s. Never very satisfactory for exterior architecture, the Rococo nevertheless had considerable appeal as a decorative program, reaching its height in the work of Meissonier and Oppenordt. A dogmatic classicism in architecture had been a serious consideration in France as early as 1671 when Louis XIV's Royal Academy of Architecture was formed. The style, produced for Louis XIV, adopted the richness and grandeur of the Roman Baroque while modifying its more dramatic excesses by a rational application of le bon goût ("good taste"). A cornerstone of rationalism already had been laid in 1714 with the publication of the French theorist the Abbé de Cordemoy's Nouveau traité de toute l'architecture (1714; "New Treatise on All Architecture"). Reaction against the Rococo crystallized in the writings of Charles-Nicolas Cochin and in the lectures of the Comte de Caylus at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1747. Along with the return to nature and reason, the twisting curvilinear forms of the Rococo were seen to work against nature. The same desire for truth to nature accounted for the growing preference in France for the informal landscape gardens of the English.Soufflot was entrusted in 1755 with the design of Sainte-Geneviève, which was intended to be the principal church of Paris. His aim in this project was to combine the strict regularity and monumentality of Roman arched ceiling vaults with the lightness of slender supporting piers and freestanding Corinthian columns. The plan was essentially a Greek cross, the facade an enormous temple front. The freestanding columns proved inadequate to support the building's dome, which eventually had to be buttressed. Because of the predominantly classical origins of the design, it became a simple matter, when the Revolution abolished religion, for the church to be secularized and renamed the Panthéon. Unfortunately, the side windows were at that time walled up and much decoration removed. The effect of a light interior space was destroyed, resulting in the somewhat gloomy monument that the Panthéon is today.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

 Thomas Jefferson, Monticello 1770-1776
American Neoclassicism
According to the Brittanica, Monticello is, the home of Thomas Jefferson, located in south-central Virginia, U.S., about 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Charlottesville. Constructed between 1768 and 1809, it is one of the finest examples of the early Classical Revival style in America.
Unlike most great mansions of the period, which were built in lowlands and adjacent to rivers, Monticello is set atop an 867-foot (264-metre) mountain; the name means "Little Mountain" in Italian. The leveling of the mountaintop was begun in 1768, and Jefferson began designing the house in the same year. He took the floor plan of the house from an English pattern book, while the facade was influenced by the designs of the 16th-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. Construction began in 1769 or 1770 and continued, with interruptions, for more than a decade. The original house consisted of a central two-story portico with a wing on either side. The kitchen, laundry, servants' quarters, and other service buildings were concealed beneath two long L-shaped terraces, extending from each side of the house along the slope of the mountain; the terraces were connected to the basement of the main house by an underground passage. This structure was retained through the house's subsequent alterations.
Monticello was largely finished when Jefferson left for France in 1784. During his five years there his ideas about architecture changed dramatically, as he was influenced by the work of contemporary Neoclassical architects and by ancient Roman buildings.
Jefferson began drawing up plans for altering and enlarging Monticello in 1793, and work began in 1796. Much of the original house was torn down. The final structure, completed in 1809, is a three-story brick and frame building with 35 rooms, 12 of them in the basement; each room is a different shape. There are two main entrances: the east portico, which provides access to the public portions of the house; and the west portico, the private entrance, which opens on the estate's extensive gardens. The windows on the second story start at floor level and are joined with the first-story windows in a single frame, which gives the impression that there is only a single story. A central octagonal dome, modeled on that of the Hôtel de Salm in Paris, dominates the structure; below it, a continuous balustrade runs around the edge of the roof.Jefferson filled the house with ingenious devices. A dial on the ceiling of the east portico supplies a reading from a weather vane on the roof; above the east entrance is a large clock with two faces, visible from the inside and outside. The fireplace in the dining room conceals a dumbwaiter that communicates with the wine cellar. Jefferson's arrangements for lighting and ventilation were equally inventive, and he designed many of the pieces of furniture himself.
Upon Jefferson's death in 1826, his daughter Martha inherited Monticello, but she was unable to maintain it. She sold the property to U.S. Navy officer Uriah Levy in 1836, who in turn bequeathed it to the people of the United States. His heirs, however, contested the will, and Monticello remained in possession of the Levy family until 1923, when it was purchased by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. 
The foundation restored the house and grounds and brought back many of the original furnishings. The estate of Monticello now includes Jefferson's home and interior furnishings, orchard, vineyard, vegetable garden, and plantation. It functions as a museum and a major tourist attraction.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Chiswick House, 
by Lord Burlington (Richard Boyle), 
at Chiswick, England, 1729.
Gardens by William Kent 1730
English Neoclassicism
According to the Brittanica, Palladianism is a style of architecture based on the writings and buildings of the humanist and theorist from Vicenza, Andrea Palladio (1508-80), perhaps the greatest architect of the latter 16th century and certainly the most influential. Palladio felt that architecture should be governed by reason and by the principles of classical antiquity as it was known in surviving buildings and in the writings of the 1st-century-bc architect and theorist Vitruvius. Palladianism bespeaks rationality in its clarity, order, and symmetry, while it also pays homage to antiquity in its use of classical forms and decorative motifs. Few architects beyond Palladio's immediate disciple Vincenzo Scamozzi (1552-1616) were interested in pursuing the most erudite aspect of Palladio's work--his investigation of harmonic proportions--and in the hands of all too many followers of the next two centuries, Palladianism tended to become a sterile academic formula devoid of Palladio's own forcefulness and poetry.
It was Inigo Jones who introduced Palladian architecture into England. Upon his return from a trip to Italy (1613-14), Jones created a Palladian style in London; this style was based upon the knowledge he had acquired from his study of Palladio's writings and from his own first-hand examination of ancient and Renaissance architecture. Outstanding among the preserved examples are the Queen's House at Greenwich (completed 1635), the Banqueting House at Whitehall (1619-22), and the Queen's Chapel at St. James Palace (1623).At the beginning of the Georgian period (1714-1830), a second and more consuming interest in Palladio developed. Partly as a reaction to the grandiose architecture of the later Stuarts, the newly powerful Whigs expressed a desire to return to a more rational and less complicated style. Their wish coincided with the publication of an English translation of Palladio's treatise I quattro libri dell'architettura (1570; Four Books on Architecture) and the first volume of Colen Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus (1715), a folio of 100 engravings of contemporary "classical" buildings in Britain (two more volumes followed in 1717 and 1725), the designs of which had enormous influence in England. William Benson, a Whig member of Parliament, had already built the first English Palladian house of the 18th century at Wilbury House, Wiltshire, in 1710. Campbell, the first important practitioner of the new and more literal English Palladianism, built Houghton Hall in Norfolk (begun 1722) and Mereworth Castle in Kent (c. 1722). The wealthy amateur architect Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, and his protégé William Kent complete the triumvirate responsible for the second phase of the style. Burlington's home, Chiswick House (begun 1725), was designed by him as a reinterpretation of Palladio's Villa Rotonda. Holkham Hall, Norfolk (begun 1734), was built by Kent, who is also credited with having invented the English landscape garden. The other notable English Palladian architects were Henry Flitcroft, Isaac Ware, James Paine, Roger Morris, and John Wood the Elder.
In the 18th century a revival of Palladianism in England spread to Italy and thence throughout most of Europe and the American colonies. Among the notable architects of this movement were Francesco Maria Preti in Italy, Thomas Jefferson in America, and Georg Knobelsdorff in Germany. The style spread to Russia through the work of the Scottish-born Charles Cameron and the Italian Giacomo Quarenghi, and it also reached Sweden and Poland. By shortly after 1800 the style had succumbed everywhere to the ascendant movement of Neoclassicism, in which classical forms and details were derived directly from antiquity instead of seen through Palladio's Renaissance eyes.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.


Josiah Wedgwood and factory, 
[The apotheosis of Homer], 1786. 
ceramic pottery vase. English. 
Ajax and Achilles playing a game.
by Exekias, c540-530 B.C.E.
Attic black-figured amphora found 
in an Etruscan tomb in Vulci, Italy.
Archaic, black-figure
Form: The design of this vase is overtly neoclassical because it has a classical scene on its side and it is designed to look like anamphora. The figures on the vase are dressed in wet drapery style and the organization of the vase looks rather like the vase byExekias below.  The ornamentaion in the frets are also classical looking garland designs that can be found on vases from Ancient Greece as well.  The relief quality and color of the vase is not classical in design and it is based on a popular type of jewelry called a cameo.Iconography:  The vessel depicts the apotheosis of Homer which is a kind of crowning scene.   Homer, often referred to as the "bard" or "poet" is holding the harp that he would have used to accompany himself while reciting his epic poetry of the Iliad or Odyssey.  To his right is a winged victory figure called a nike. To the right of the nike figure is probably one of the Greek gods who Homer is about to play for once he mounts the stage.
Context:  An interesting aspect of this vase is that it was produced in a factory and demonstrates the 19th century desire for the antique coupled with a forward looking gaze into the industrial era. 
According to the Brittanica,
Also adapted to the Neoclassical taste was Wedgwood's jasperware, introduced in 1775, a white, matte, unglazed stoneware resembling biscuit porcelain and having ornamental potentialities similar to basaltes. It could, moreover, be stained many colours, from pale pastels (such as the famous pale blue) to stronger tints. Ornaments in white, made separately in molds, were applied to the body of the piece; the contrast of white on a coloured ground thus achieved was used in imitation of antique cameos of hardstone and glass (in which portions of the white top layer of glass are cut away, leaving the white figure in relief against the coloured underlayer). Employing outstanding artists of the day, such as the sculptor John Flaxman, Wedgwood copied innumerable antique designs, including the Roman Portland Vase. Jasperware was imitated in other European factories, notably at Sèvres.Together with other Wedgwood wares, basaltes and jasperware are still produced in both old and modern designs at the Wedgwood factory, which moved to Barlaston, Staffordshire, in 1940.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

apo.the.o.sis n, pl -o.ses [LL, fr. Gk apotheosis, fr. apotheoun to deify, fr. apo- + theos god] (ca. 1580) 1: elevation to divine status: deification 2: the perfect example: quintessence -- apo.the.o.size vt
cam.eo n, pl -eos [ME camew, fr. MF camau, kamaheu] (15c) 1 a: a gem carved in relief; esp: a small piece of sculpture on a stone or shell cut in relief in one layer with another contrasting layer serving as background b: a small medallion with a profiled head in relief 2: a carving or sculpture made in the manner of a cameo

Women Artists: "You've Come A Long Way Baby"

Marie  Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun 1755-1842
 Self portrait -1790
Marie  Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun
b. April 16, 1755, Paris, France
d. March 30, 1842, Paris 
in full MARIE-LOUISE-ÉLISABETH VIGÉE-LEBRUN French painter, one of the most successful of all women artists, particularly noted for her portraits of women.
Her father was Louis Vigée, a pastel portraitist and her first teacher. She studied later with a number of well-known painters, among them J.-B. Greuze and Joseph Vernet. In 1776 she married a picture dealer, J.-B.-P. Lebrun. Her great opportunity came in 1779 when she was summoned to Versailles to paint a portrait of Queen Marie-Antoinette. The two women became friends, and in subsequent years Vigée-Lebrun painted at least 25 portraits of Marie-Antoinette in a great variety of poses and costumes; a number of these may be seen in the museum at Versailles. Vigée-Lebrun became a member of the Royal Academy in 1783.On the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789, she left France and for 12 years traveled abroad, to Rome, Naples, Vienna, Berlin, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, painting portraits and playing a leading role in society. In 1801 she returned to Paris but, disliking Parisian social life under Napoleon, soon left for London, where she painted portraits of the court and of Lord Byron. Later she went to Switzerland (and painted a portrait of Mme de Staël) and then again (c. 1810) to Paris, where she ceased painting.
Vigée-Lebrun was a woman of much wit and charm, and her memoirs, Souvenirs de ma vie (1835-37; "Reminiscences of My Life"), provide a lively account of her times as well as of her own work. She was one of the most technically fluent portraitists of her era, and her pictures are notable for the freshness, charm, and sensitivity of their presentation. During her career, according to her own account, she painted 877 pictures, including 622 portraits and about 200 landscapes.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Artemisia Gentileschi
Self Portrait as 
Allegory of Painting 
or"La Pittura" 1630 
Italian Baroque

Sofonisba Anguissola, Self Portrait of the Artist 
with Sisters and Governess. 1555 
(The Chess Game)
oil on canvas, 27"x37" 
Nardowe Museum, Poznan, Poland
Italian Renaissance

Marie  Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun 1755-1842
 Self portrait -1790
French Baroque/Rococo Portraitist
Artemisia Gentileschi, Sofonisba Anguissola and Marie  Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun are self portraits contain important clues as to how each of these artists was perceived and how they saw the world.  Compare and contrast these three paintings and come up with some conclusions as to how each artist chose to portray themselves.  What do these portrayals tell us about the role of the artist in the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods?

Marie  Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun
with her daughter Julie - 
1789 121 x 90 cm, The Louvre, Paris
Marie  Louise Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun 1755-1842 
Marie Antoinette 1787 oil on canvas 9'x7'
Form: Both these portraits are done in a Rococo fashion.  The brushwork is light almost feathery and often the colors that are used tend to run towards pastel in terms of their hue.  The compositions are fairly stable and symmetrical although the tenebrism tends to create an almostvignette type of effect.In the self portrait the artist has chosen a neoclassical looking garment and the texture of the background is undefined.  In the portrait of Marie Antoinette, the queen is dressed in fairly expensive clothing however the clothing is not terribly ornate or ostentatious.
Iconography:  In both images, the artist has chosen to portray the female as a "good mother" in the manner that Rousseau advocated.  In Rousseau's point of view the role of individuals was predetermined by their innate nature and that in order for an individual to fit into society as a whole one must live in accordance with this nature.  In the case of females, this role was to have children and be good mothers.  Both of these images subscribe to this point of view because these images were meant to be almost advertisements or a form of propaganda that would present a persona to the world.
Context:  By 1789, accusations of impropriety and adultery had destroyed her public reputation.   This self portrait was an attempt to portray herself as a moral and upright Frenchwoman.  The same was true for Marie Antoinette.  In this painting Marie Antoinette is being depicted in modest clothing to defend against accusations of excessive spending and she is also portrayed as the good mother who had also lost a son.  On the right is her brother, Louis, Le Dauphin gesturing toward the empty crib which indicates her loss.
The last portrait of thirty that Vigee Le Brun painted of the doomed queen. The picture shows Marie Therese Charlotte de France, Madame Royale, and her brother, Louis, Le Dauphin.  Louis died of natural causes early in the year that the revolution began. The next younger child, also called Louis then became the second Dauphin. After his father had been guillotined he became known as Louis XVII . This Louis may have been murdered, or may have died of other causes while imprisoned in the temple, but he may also have survuved after having been exchanged for another sickly child. This painting still hangs at Versailles.
Go here for a great bio on Marie Antoinette http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/Delta/6569/

Angelica Kauffman, 
Cornelia Pointing to Her Children as Her Treasures, 1785. 
oil on canvas, 40"x50" 
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia
Neoclassic, worked in England born in Switzerland
Stele of Hegeso
c.410-400 BC, Marble, 5'9"
Athens. Classic Greek
Ara Pacis Augustae 13-9 BCE
Form: This painting is Neoclassic in style because it incorporates classical clothing and architecture and is organized in a classical manner.  The composition is also arranged in a similar manner to Grueze's and Poussin'spaintings.  Like its Baroque French counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures.The picture plane is arranged in a sculptural frieze like band that takes its cue from antique sculptural friezes such as those found on the Ara Pacis and the Parthenon.  Like its classical counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures. 
Stokstad goes into the specific story of the Cornelia and the Gracchii and so this next section will be dedicated to some other aspects of the image.
The use of classical imagery, such as the togas and columns, and a story that deals specifically with self sacrifice for the generations of the future.  The classical clothing and arches referred to a tradition that was considered more dignified than the light classical themes expressed in paintings like Watteau's.
The lighting and the frieze like placement of the figures are equally a part of the iconography of this image because these formal elements directly refer to those classical traditions.  Compare Watteau's style of painting and see how the formal qualities of each actually are part of the iconography.
The individuals being represented are also all physically beautiful and this refers to the classical concept of kalos(Greek for beautiful and moral.)
In a twist on the classical vocabulary found in the Stele of Hegeso, Kauffman corrects the iconography and updates it.  The prescribed role of woman is specifically expressed in this image as that of a mother rather than a selfish woman who cares only for jewels.  This philosophy is very much in keeping with Rousseau's ideas concerning that of the "happy mother" and in her depiction of Cornelia she is almost changing the meaning of the image found on the stele.
Context: According to WebGalleries,
This fine painting combines the 18th century attributes of loving and attentive mother with Roman classicizing elements. Kauffmann presents us with the narrative subject of "exemplum virtutis" or example of virtue. Here a wealthy women sits showing off her jewels. When she asks Cornelia to present her jewels, Cornelia raises her hand to bring forth her sons, Tiberus and Gaius, saying "These are my jewels". The subjects are clothed in roman dress and set against a roman background. An interesting comparison can be made to Jacques Louis David's "Oath of the Horatii".A child prodigy, Kauffmann produced her first commissioned work before the age of 13. After the death of her mother, she traveled through Austria and Italy with her father, painter Joseph Johann Kauffmann. She assisted him by painting in the backgrounds of his works, but she also received her own commissions and soon established a solid reputation in her own right. She was influenced by Correggio and the Carracci and copied their works in the galleries as part of her artistic training. Later her style reflected a neoclassical flavor influenced by Benjamin West, Sr. Joshua Reynolds and the classicizing elements at Herculaneum.
In 1766 Kauffmann was invited to London. She produced many portraits and decorative painting but preferred history painting which was considered the highest artistic genre and reserved only for her male colleagues. Despite her inability to secure a formal artistic education or study the male nude, Kauffmann produced paintings which depicted classical mythology, history and allegory. She received commissions from the Royal courts in Naples, Russia and Austria. While often dismissed by traditional art history as a mere decorative or sentimental artist, she was successful enough to purchase her own home from earned commissions and live a comfortably stylish life. Another testament of Kauffmann's success was that she was one of the founding members of the British Royal Academy in 1768. 

Angelica Kauffman, 
Cornelia Pointing to Her Children as Her Treasures, 1785. 
oil on canvas, 40"x50" 
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia
Neoclassic, worked in England born in Switzerland
Stele of Hegeso
c.410-400 BC, Marble, 5'9"
Athens. Classic Greek
Ara Pacis Augustae 13-9 BCE
Form: This painting is Neoclassic in style because it incorporates classical clothing and architecture and is organized in a classical manner.  The composition is also arranged in a similar manner to Grueze's and Poussin'spaintings.  Like its Baroque French counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures.The picture plane is arranged in a sculptural frieze like band that takes its cue from antique sculptural friezes such as those found on the Ara Pacis and the Parthenon.  Like its classical counterparts, the image is constructed so that most of the figures are placed in the foreground and even though there is the creation of deep space, the background is not as important as the figures. 
Stokstad goes into the specific story of the Cornelia and the Gracchii and so this next section will be dedicated to some other aspects of the image.
The use of classical imagery, such as the togas and columns, and a story that deals specifically with self sacrifice for the generations of the future.  The classical clothing and arches referred to a tradition that was considered more dignified than the light classical themes expressed in paintings like Watteau's.
The lighting and the frieze like placement of the figures are equally a part of the iconography of this image because these formal elements directly refer to those classical traditions.  Compare Watteau's style of painting and see how the formal qualities of each actually are part of the iconography.
The individuals being represented are also all physically beautiful and this refers to the classical concept of kalos(Greek for beautiful and moral.)
In a twist on the classical vocabulary found in the Stele of Hegeso Kauffman corrects the iconography and updates it.  The prescribed role of woman is specifically expressed in this image as that of a mother rather than a selfish woman who cares only for jewels.  This philosophy is very much in keeping with Rousseau's ideas concerning that of the "happy mother" and in her depiction of Cornelia she is almost changing the meaning of the image found on the stele.
Context: According to the Brittanica, Kauffman was,
b. Oct. 30, 1741, Chur, Switz.
d. Nov. 5, 1807, Rome, Papal States [Italy] 
in full MARIA ANNA CATHARINA ANGELICA KAUFFMANN painter in the early Neoclassical style who is best known for her decorative wall paintings for residences designed by Robert Adam.
The daughter of Johann Joseph Kauffmann, a painter, Angelica was a precocious child and a talented musician and painter by her 12th year. Her early paintings were influenced by the French Rococo works of Henri Gravelot and François Boucher. In 1754 and 1763 she visited Italy, and while in Rome she was influenced by the Neoclassicism of Anton Raphael Mengs.She was induced by Lady Wentworth, wife of the English ambassador, to accompany her to London in 1766. She was well received and was particularly favoured by the royal family. Sir Joshua Reynolds became a close friend, and most of the numerous portraits and self-portraits done in her English period were influenced by his style of portrait painting. Her name is found among the signatories to the petition for the establishment of the Royal Academy, and in its first catalogue of 1769 she is listed as a member. During the 1770s Kauffmann was one of a team of artists who supplied the painted decorations for Adam-designed interiors (e.g., the house at 20 Portman Square, London; now the Courtauld Institute Galleries). Kauffmann retired to Rome in the early 1780s with her second husband, the Venetian painter Antonio Zucchi.
Kauffmann's pastoral and mythological compositions portray gods and goddesses in a delicate and graceful if somewhat insipid fashion. Her paintings are Rococo in tone and approach, though her figures are given Neoclassical poses and draperies. Kauffmann's portraits of female sitters are among her finest works.
Copyright © 1994-2001 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

neo.clas.sic or neo.clas.si.cal adj (1877): of, relating to, or constituting a revival or adaptation of the classical esp. in literature, music, art, or architecture -- neo.clas.si.cism n -- neo.clas.si.cist n or adjvi.gnette n [F, fr. MF vignete, fr. dim. of vigne vine--more at vine] (1751)  2 a: a picture (as an engraving or photograph) that shades off gradually into the surrounding paper b: the pictorial part of a postage stamp design as distinguished from the frame and lettering 3 a: a short descriptive literary sketch b: a brief incident or scene (as in a play or movie) -- vi.gnett.ist n ²vignette vt vi.gnett.ed ; vi.gnett.ing (1853) 1: to finish (as a photograph) in the manner of a vignette 2: to describe briefly -- vi.gnett.er n

The French Academic Tradition and the Style of Orientalism
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres- 
Apotheosis of Homer, 1827 
  • working in academic tradition. 
  • Official art school , neoclassicism style. 
  • Patriotism and social responsibility. 
  • Important figures surround them.
Neoclassicism, which was first established as the "official" or "state" style by Jacques Louis David during the French Revolution, survived during the first part of the 1800's but became less and less powerful or serious: in some ways it lost quite a lot of its ideological zeal and became a syrupy overly dramatic style. This painting by Ingres is not a call to arms as David's Oath of the Horatii, but more a kind of class photo of important French mathemeticians, painters, and authors.  This work might be considered by some to be a cheap knock off (or correction) of Raphael's School of Athens.

INGRES, Jean Auguste Dominique Odalisque with a Slave 
Oil on canvas mounted on panel 29 3/8 x 39 3/8 in. (146.7 x 100.3 cm) 
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts at right
John Nash: Brighton, Royal Pavillion , as remodelled, 1815-23.
The smooth photographic quality taken from neoclassicism was the standard for any pupil of the French Academic tradition such as Ingres.  Nevertheless, later academic painting, while preserving the formal schema, changed the subject of both the paintings and architectural.  Now what was being represented was an "Imaginary Orient."  Please see the essay by Linda Nochlin of the same title.

INGRES, Jean Auguste Dominique Large Odalisque 1814 2'x5'

Titian The Venus of Urbino (1538) 
approx. 48" x 66" 
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Important terms:
reappropriation- take an "other's" property, art, or ideas and make them appropriate to another culture's tastes.
male gaze- a male view of the world in which the female form is often appropriated in order to reflect the dominant male culture.

Jean-Léon Gérome 
The Harem Pool c1870

Jean-Léon Gérome 
Moorish Bath Legion 1880

Jean-Léon Gérome 

Jean-Léon Gérome 
Slave Auction

Jean-Léon Gérome 
Slave Market

Jean-Léon Gérome 
Snake Charmer
The following article is a hard read, but, try to read it anyway, it contains some really important ideas and these ideas will also be include as test questions.

Linda Nochlin. The Politics of Vision (New York, 1989).What is more European, after all, than to be corrupted by the Orient?  -- Richard Howard
What is the rationale behind the recent spate of revisionist or expansionist exhibitions of nineteenth-century art--The Age of Revolution, The Second Empire, TheRealist Tradition, Northern Light, Women Artists, various shows of academic art, etc.? Is it simply to rediscover overlooked or forgotten works of art? Is it to reevaluate the material, to create a new and less value-laden canon? These are the kinds of questions that were raised -- more or less unintentionally, one suspects--by the 1982 exhibition and catalogue Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting, 1800-1880.1
Above all, the Orientalist exhibition makes us wonder whether there are other questions besides the "normal" art-historical ones that ought to be asked of this material. The organizer of the show, Donald Rosenthal, suggests that there are indeed important issues at stake here, but he deliberately stops short of confronting them. "The unifying characteristic of nineteenth-century Orientalism was its attempt at documentary realism," he declares in the introduction to the catalogue, and then goes on to maintain, quite correctly, that "the flowering of Orientalist painting . . . was closely associated with the apogee of European colonialist expansion in the nineteenth century." Yet, having referred to Edward Said's critical definition of Orientalism in Western literature "as a mode for defining the presumed cultural inferiority of the Islamic Orient . . . part of the vast control mechanism of colonialism, designed to justify and perpeturate European dominance," Rosenthal immediately rejects this analysis in his own study. "French Orientalist painting will be discussed in terms of its aesthetic quality and historical interest, and no attemptwill be made at a re-evaluation of its political uses."2
In other words, art-historical business as usual. Having raised the two crucial issues of policical domination and ideology, Rosenthal drops them like hot potatoes. Yet surely most of the pictures in the exhibition -- indeed the key notion of Orientalism itself -- cannot be confronted without a critical analysis of the particular power structure in which these works came into being. For instance, the degree of realism (or lack of it) in individual Orientalist images can hardly be discussed without some attempt to clarify whose reality we are talking about.
Jean-Léon Gérome Snake Charmer
What are we to make, for example, of Jean-Leon Gérôme's Snake Charmer[1], painted in the late 1860s (now in the Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass.)? Surely it may most profitably  be considered as a visual document of nineteenth-century colonialist ideology, an iconic distillation of the Westerner's notion of the Oriental couched in the language of a would-be transparent naturalism. (No wonder Said used it as the dust jacket for his critical study of the phenomenon of Orientalism!)3 The title, however, doesn't really tell the complete story; the painting should really be called The Snake Charmer and His Audience, for we are clearly meant to look at both perofrmer and audience as parts of the same spectacle. We are not, as we so often are in Impressionist works of this period -- works like Manet's or Degas's Cafe Concerts, for example, which are set in Paris--invited to identify with the audience. The watchers huddled against the ferociously detailed tiled wall in the background of Gérôme's painting are as resolutely alienated from us as is the act they watch with such childish, trancelike concentration. Our gaze is meant to include both the spectacle and its spectators as objects of picturesque delectation.
Clearly, these black and brown folk are mystified--but then again, so are we. Indeed, the defining mood of the painting is mystery, and it is created by a specific pictorial device. We are permitted only a beguiling rear view of the boy holding the snake. A full frontal view, which would reveal unambiguously both his sex and the fullness of his dangerous performance, is denied us. And the insistent, sexually charged mystery at the center of this painting signifies a more general one: the mystery of the East itself, a standard topos of Orientalist ideology.
Despite, or perhaps because of, the insistent richness of the visual diet Gerome offers--the manifest attractions of the young protagonist's rosy buttocks and muscular thighs; the wrinkles of the venerable snake charmer to his right; the varied delights offered by the picturesque crowd and the alluringly elaborate surfaces of the authentic Turkish tiles, carpet, and basket which serve as decor--we are haunted by certain absensces in the painting. These absences are so conspicuous that, once we become aware of them, they begin to function as presences, in fact, as signs of a certain kind of conceptual deprivation.
One absence is the absence of history. Time stands still in Gerome's painting, as it does in all imagery qualified as "picturesque," including nineteenth-century representations of peasants in France itself. Gerome suggests that this Oriental world is a world without change, a world of timeless, atemporal customs and rituals, untouched by the historical processes that were "afflicting" or "improving" but, at any rate, drastically altering Western societies at the time. Yet these were in fact years of violent and conspicuous change in the Near East as well, changes affected primarily by Western power--technological, military, economic, cultural--and specifically by the very French presence Gerome so scrupulously avoids.
In the very time when and place where Gerome's picture was painted, the late 1860s in Constantinople, the government of Napoleon III was taking an active interest (as were the governments of Russia, Austria, and Great Britain) in the efforts of the Ottoman government to reform and modernized itself. "It was necessary to change Muslim habits, to destroy the age-old fanaticism which was an obstacle to the fusion of races and to create a modern secular state," declared French historian Edouard Driault in La Question d' Orient (1898). "It was necessary to transform . . . the education of both conquerors and subjects, and inculcate in both the unknown spirit of tolerance--a noble task, worthy of great renown of France," he continued.
In 1863 the Ottoman Bank was founded, with the controlling interest in French hands. In 1867 the French government invited the sultan to visit Paris and recommended to him a system of secular public education and the undertaking of great public works and communication systems. In 1868 under the joint direction of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Ambassador, the Lycee of Galata-Serai was opened, a great secondary school open to Ottoman subjects of every reace and creed, where Europeans taught more than six hundred boys the French language--"a symbol," Driault maintained, "of the action of France, exerting herself to instruct the peoples of the Orient in her own language the elements of Western civilization." In the same year, a company consisting mainly of French capitalists received a concession for railways to connect present-day Istanbul and Salonica with the existing railways on the Middle Danube.4
The absence of a sense of history, of temporal change, in Gerome's painting is intimately related to another striking absence in the work: that of the telltale presence of Westerners. There are never any Europeans in "picturesque" views of the Orient like these. Indeed, it might be said that one of the defining features of Orientalist painting is its dependence for its very existence on a presence that is always and absence: the Western colonial or touristic presence.

Jean-Léon Gérome Snake Charmer
The white man, the Westerner, is of course always implicitly present in Orientalist paintings like Snake Charmer; his is necessarily the controlling gaze, the gaze which brings the Oriental world into being, the gaze for which it is ultimately intended. And this leads us to still another absence. Part of the strategy of an Orientalist painter like Gerome is to make his viewers forget that there was any "bringing into being" at all, to convince them that works like these were simply "reflections," scientific in their exactitude, of a preexisting Oriental reality.
In his own time Gerome was held to be dauntingly objective and scientific and was compared in this respect with Realist novelists. As an American critic declared in 1873:

Gerome has the reputation of being one of the most studious and conscientiously accurate painters of our time. In a certain sense he may even be called"learned." He believes as firmly as Charles Reade does in the obligation on the part of the artist to be true even in minute matters to the period and locality of a workpretending to historical character. Balzac is said to have made a journey of several hundreds of miles in order to verify certain apparently insignificant factsconcerning a locality described in one of his novels. Of Gerome, it is alleged that he never paints a picture without the most patient and exhaustive preliminary studiesof every matter connected with his subject. In the accesories of costume, furniture, etc. it is invariably his aim to attain the utmost possible exactness. It is this trait inwhich some declare an excess, that has caused him to spoken of as a "scientific picture maker."5

The strategies of "realist" (or perhaps "pseudo-realist," "authenticist," or "naturalist" would be better terms) mystification go hand in hand with those of Orientalist mystification. Hence, another absence which constitutes a significant presence in the painting: the absence--that is to say, the apparentabsence--of art. As Leo Bersani has pointed out in his article on realism and the fear of desire, " The 'seriousness' of realist art is based on the absence of any reminder of the fact that it is really a question of art."6 No other artist has so inexorably eradicated all traces of the picture plane as Gerome, denying us any clue to the art work as a literal flat surface.
Eugëne Delacroix, Street in Meknes, 1832 Oil on canvas, 18 1/4 x 25 1/4"

If we compare a painting like Gerome's Streets in Algier with its prototype, Delacroix's Street in Meknes, we immediatley see that Gerome, in the interest of "artlessness," of innocent, Orientalist transparency, goes much farther than Delacroix in supplying picturesque data to the Western observer, and in veiling the fact that the image consists of paint on canvas. A "naturalist" or "authenticist" artist like Gerome tries to make us forget that his art is really art, both by concealing the evidence of his touch, and, at the same time, by insisting on a plethora of authenticating details, especially on what might be called unnecessary ones. These include not merely the "carefully executed Turkish tile patterns" that Richard Ettinghausen pointed out in his 1972 Gerome catalogue; not merely the artist's renditions of Arabic inscriptions which, Ettinghausen maintains, "can be easily read";7 but even the "later repair" on the tile work, which, functioning at first sight rather like the barometer on the piano in Flaubert's description of Madame Aubain's drawing room in "Un coeur simple," creates what Roland Barthes has called "the reality effect" (l'effet de reel).8
Such details, supposedly there to denote the real directly, are actually there simply to signify its presence in the work as a whole. As Barthes points out, the major function of gratuitous, accurate details like these is to announce "we are the real." They are signifiers of the category of the real, there to give credibility to the "realness" of the work as a whole, to authenticate the total visual field as a simple, artless reflection--in this case, of a supposed Oriental reality.
Yet if we look again, we can see that the objectively described repairs in the tiles have still another function: a moralizing one which assumes meaning only within the apparently objectivized context of the scene as a whole. Neglected, ill-repaired architecture functions, in nineteenth-century Orientalist art, as a standard topos for commenting on the corruption of contemporary Islamic society. Kenneth Bendiner has collected striking examples of this device, in both the paintings and the writings of nineteenth-century artists. For instance, the British painter David Roberts, documenting his Holy Landand Egypt and Nubia, wrote from Cairo in 1838 about "splendid cities, once teeming with a busy population and embellished with . . . edifices, the wonder of the world, now deserted and lonely, or reduced by mismanagement and the barbarism of the Modern creed, to a state as savage as the wild animals by which they are surrounded." At another time, explaining the existence of certain ruins in its environs, he declared that Cairo "contains, I think, more idle people than any town its size in the world."9
The vice of idleness was frequently commented upon by Western travelers to Islamic countries in the nineteenth century, and in relation to it, we can observe still another striking absence in the annals of Orientalist art: the absence of scenes of work and industry, despite the fact that some Western observers commented on the Egyptian fellahin's long hours of back-breaking labor, and on the ceaseless work of Egyptian women engaged in the fields and in domestic labor.10
When Gerome's painting is seen within this context of supposed Near Eastern idleness and neglect, what might at first appear to be objectively described architectural fact turns out to be architecture moralisee. The lesson is subtle, perhaps, but still eminently available, given a context of similar topoi: these people--lazy, slothful, and childlike, if colorful--have let their own cultural treasures sink into decay. There is a clear allusion here, clothed in the language of objective reportage, not merely to the mystery of the East, but to the barbaric insouciance of Moslem peoples, who quite literally charm snakes while Constantinople falls into ruins.
What I am trying to get at, of course, is the obvious truth that in this painting Gerome is not reflecting a ready-made reality but, like all artists, is producing meanings. If I seem to dwell on the issue of authenticating details, it is because not only Gerome's contemporaries, but some present-day revisionist revivers of Gerome, and of Orientalist painting in general, insist so strongly on the objectivity and credibility of Gerome's view of the Near East, using this sort of detail as evidence for their claims.
The fact that Gerome and other Orientalist "realists" used photographic documentation is often brought in to support claims to the objectivity of the works in question. Indeed, Gerome seems to have relied on photographs for some of his architectural detail, and critics in both his own time and in ours compare his work to photography. Photography itself is hardly immune to the blandishments of Orientalism, and even a presumably innocent or neutral view of architecture can be ideologized.

A commercially produced tourist version of the Bab Mansour at Meknes [2] "orientalizes" the subject, producing the image the tourist would like to remember--picturesque, relatively timeless, the gate itself photographed at a dramatic angle, reemphasized by dramatic contrasts of light and shadow, and rendered more picturesque by the floating cloud which silhouettes it to the left. Plastic variation, architectural values, and colorful surface are all played up in the professional shot; at the same time, all evidence of contemporaneity and contradiction--that Meknes is a modern as well as a traditional city, filled with tourists and business people from East and West; that cars and buses are used as well as donkeys and horses--is suppressed by the "official" photograph. A photo by an amateur [3], however, foregrounding cars and buses and the swell of empty macadam, subordinates the picturesque and renders the gate itself flat and incoherent. In this snapshot, Orientalism is reduced to the presence of a few weary crenellations to the right. But this image is simply the bad example in the "how-to-take-good-photographs-on-your-trip" book which teaches the novice how to approximate her experience to the official version of visual reality.
But of course, there is Orientalism and Orientalism. If for painters like Gerome the Near East existed as an actual place to be mystified with effects of realness, for other artists it existes as a project of the imagination, a fantasy space or screen onto which strong desires--erotic, sadistic, or both--could be projected with impunity. The Near Eastern setting of Delacroix's Death of Sardanapalus[4] (created, it is important to emphasize, before the artist's own trip to North Africa in 1832) does not function as a field of ethnographic exploration. It is, rather, a stage for the playing out, from a suitable distance, of forbidden passions--the artist's own fantasies (need it be said?) as well as those of the doomed Near Eastern monarch.

Delacroix, Death of Sardanapalus, 1827
Delacroix evidently did his Orientalist homework for the painting, probably reading descriptions in Herodotus and Diodorus Sicilis of ancient Oriental debauchery, and dipping into passages in Quintus Curtius on Babylonian orgies, examining an Etruscan fresco or two, perhaps even looking at some Indian miniatures.11 But it is obvious that a thirst for accuracy was hardly a major impulse behind the creation of this work. Nor, in this version of Orientalism--Romantic, if you will, and created forty years before Gerome's--is it Western man's power over the Near East that is at issue, but rather, I believe, contemporary Frenchmen's power over women, a power controlled and mediated by the ideology of the erotic in Delacroix's time.
"In dreams begin responsibilities," a poet once said. Perhaps. Certainly, we are on surer footing asserting that in power begin dreams--dreams of still greater power (in this case, fantasies of men's limitless power to enjoy the bodies of women by destroying them). It would be absurd to reduce Delacroix's complex painting to a mere pictorial projection of the artist's sadistic fantasies under the guise of Orientalism. Yet it is not totally irrelevant to keep in mind that the vivid turbulence of Delacroix's narrative--the story of the ancient Assyrian ruler Sardanapalus, who, upon hearing of his incipient defeat, had all his precious possessions, including his women, destroyed, and then went up in flames with them--is subtended by the more mundane assumption, shared by men of Delacroix's class and time, that they were naturally "entitled" to the bodies of certain women. If the men were artists like Delacroix, it was assumed that they had more or less unlimited access to the bodies of the women who worked for them as models. In other words, Delacroix's private fantasy did not exist in a vacuum, but in a particular social context which granted permission for as well as established the boundaries of certain kinds of behavior.
Within this context, the Orientalizing setting of Delacroix's painting both signifies an extreme state of psychic intensity and formalizes that state through various conventions or representation. But is allows only so much and no more. It is difficult, for example, to imagine a Death of Cleopatra, with voluptuous nude male slaves being put to death by women servants, painted by a woman artist of this period.12

Jean André Rixens, The Death of Cleopatra (1874)
At the same time he emphasized the sexually provocative aspects of his theme, Delacroix attempted to defuse his overt pictorial expression of men's total domination of women in a variety of ways. He distanced his fears and desires by letting them explode in an Orientalized setting and by filtering them through a Byronic prototype. But at the same time, the motif of a group of naked, beautiful women put to the sword is not taken from ancient versions of the Sardanapalus story, although the lasciviousness of Oriental potentates was a staple of many such accounts.13 Nor was it Byron's invention but, significantly, Delacroix's own.14
The artist participates in the carnage by placing at the blood-red heart of the picture a surrogate self--the recumbent Sardanapalus on his bed. But Sardanapalus holds himself  aloof, in the pose of the philosopher, from the sensual tumult which surrounds him; he is an artist-destroyer who is ultimately to be consumed in the flames of his own creation-destruction. His dandyish coolness in the face of sensual provocation of the hightest order--what might be called his "Orientalized" remoteness and conventialized pose--may indeed have helped Delacroix justify to himself his own erotic extremism, the fulfillment of sadistic impulse in the painting. It did not satisfy the contemporary public. Despite the brilliant feat of artistic semisublimation pulled off here, both public and critics were for the most part appalled by the work when it first appeared in the Salon of 1828.15
The aloofness of the hero of the piece, its Orientalizing strategies of distancing, its references to the outre mores of long-dead Near Eastern oligarchs fooled no one, really. Although criticism was generally directed more against the painting's supposed formal failings, it is obvious that by depicting this type of subject with such obvious sensual relish, such erotic panache and openness, Delacroix had come too close to an overt statement of the most explosive, hence the most carefully repressed, corollary of the ideology of male domination: the connection between sexual possession and murder as an assertion of absolute enjoyment.
The fantasy of absolute possession of women's naked bodies--a fantasy which for men of Delacroix's time was partly based on specific practice in the institution of prostitution or, more specifically, in the case of artists, on the availability of studio models for sexual as well as professional services--also lies at the heart of such typical subjects of Orientalist imagery as Gerome's various Slave Markets. These are ostensibly realistic representations of the authentic customs of picturesque Near Easterners. Indeed, Maxime Du Camp, a fellow traveler in the picturesque byways of the Middle East, remarked of Gerome's painting (or of one like it): "Gerome's Slave Market is a fact literally reproduced. . . . People go [to the slave market] to purchase a slave as they do here to the market . . . to buy a turbot."16

Jean-Léon Gérome 
Slave Market

Jean-Léon Gérome 
Slave Auction
Obviously, the motivations behind the creation of such Orientalist erotica, and the appetite for it, had little to do with pure ethnography. Artists like Gerome could dish up the same theme--the display of naked, powerless women to clothed, powerful men--in a variety of guises: that of the antique slave market, for instance, or in the subject of Phryne before the Tribunal. What lies behind the production of such popular stimuli to simultaneous lip-licking and tongue-clicking is, of course, the satisfaction that the delicious humiliation of lovely slave girls gives to the moralistic voyeur. They are depicted as innocents, trapped against their will in some far-off place, their nakedness more to be pitied than censured; they also display an ingratiating tendency to cover their eyes rather than their seductive bodies.
Why was it that Gerome's Orientalist assertions of masculine power over feminine nakedness were popular, and appeared frequently in the Salons of the mid-nineteenth century, whereas earlier Delacroix's Sardanapalus had been greeted with outrage? Some of the answers have to do with the different historical contexts in which these works originated, but some have to do with the character of the paintings themselves. Gerome's fantasia on the theme of sexual politics (the Clark collection Slave Market, for example) has been more successfully ideologized than Delacroix's, and this ideologizing is achieved precisely through the work's formal stucture. Gerome's version was more acceptable because he substituted a chilly and remote pseudoscientific naturalism--small, self-effacing brushstrokes, and "rational" and convincing spatial effects--in other words, an apparently dispassionate empiricism--for Delacroix's tempestuous self-involvement, his impassioned brushwork, subjectively outpouring perspective, and inventive, sensually self-revelatory dancelike poses. Gerome's style justified his subject--perhaps not to us, who are cannier readers--but certainly to most of the spectators of his time, by guaranteeing through sober "objectivity" the unassailable Otherness of the characters in his narrative. He is saying in effect: "Don't think that I or any other right-thinking Frenchman would ever be involved in this sort of thing. I am merely taking careful note of the fact that less enlightened races indulge in the trade in naked women--but isn't it arousing!"
Like many other art works of his time, Gerome's Orientalist painting managed to body forth two ideological assumptions about power: one about men's power over women; the other about white men's superiority to, hence justifiable control over, inferior, darker races, precisely those who indulge in this sort of regrettably lascivious commerce. Or we might say that something even more complex is involved in Gerome's strategies vis-a-vis the homme moyen sensuel: the (male) viewer was invited sexually to identify with, yet morally to distance himself from, his Oriental counterparts depicted within the objectively inviting yet racially distancing space of the painting.

Jean-Léon Gérome 
Slave Market

Manet's Masked Ball at the Opera of 1873-74
Manet's Masked Ball at the Opera of 1873-74 may, for the purposes of our analysis, be read as a combative response to and subversion of the ideological assumptions controlling Gerome's Slave Market [5]. Like Gerome's painting, Manet's work (to borrow a phrase from the German critic Meier-Graefe, who greatly admired it) represents a Fleischbörse--a flesh market. Unlike Gerome, however, Manet represented the marketing of attractive women not in a suitably distanced Near Eastern locale, but behind the galleries of the opera house on the rue Le Peletier. The buyers of female flesh are not Oriental louts but civilized and recognizable Parisians, debonair men about town, Manet's friends, and, in some cases, fellow artists, whom he had asked to pose for him. And the flesh in question is not represented au naturel, but sauced up in the most charming and provocative fancy-dress costumes. Unlike Gerome's painting, which had been accepted for the Salon of 1867,  Manet's was rejected for that of 1874.
I should like to suggest that the reason for Manet's rejection was not merely the daring close-to-homeness of his representation of the availability of feminine sexuality and male consumption of it. Nor was it, as his friend and defender at the time Stephane Mallarme suggested, its formal daring--its immediacy, its dash, its deliberate yet casual-looking cut-off view of the spectacle. It was rather the way these two kinds of subversive impulse are made to intersect. Manet's rejection of the myth of stylistic transparency in a painting depicting erotic commerical transaction is precisely what calls into question the underlying assumptions governing Gerome's Orientalist version of the same theme.
By interrupting the unimpeded flow of the story line with the margins of his image, Manet frankly reveals the assumptions on which such narratives are premised. The cut-off legs and torso on the balcony are a witty, ironic reference to the actual motivations controlling such gatherings of upper-middle class men and charming women of the theater: pleasure for the former; profit for the latter. The little legs and torso constitute a witty synecdoche, a substitution of part for whole, a trope par excellence of critical realism--a trope indicating the sexual availability of delectable female bodies for willing buyers.
By means of a similar synecdoche--the half-Polichinelle to the left, cut off by the left-hand margin of the canvas--Manet suggests the presence of the artist-entrepreneur half inside, half outside the world of the painting; at the same time, he further asserts the status of the image as a work of art. By means of a brilliant, deconstructive-realist strategy, Manet has at once made us aware of the artifice of art, as opposed to Gerome's solemn, pseudoscientific denial of it with his illusionistic naturalism. At the same time, through the apparently accidentally amputed female legs and torso, Manet foregrounds the nature of the actual transaction taking place in the worldy scene he has chosen to represent.17
Jean-Léon Gérome, Moorish Bath, 1880

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. The Bather of Valpinçon. 1808. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris, France
Despite his insistence on accuracy as the guarantee of veracity, Gerome himself was not beyond the blandishments of the artful. In his bath scenes like the Moorish Bath [6], the presence of a Cairene sunken fountain with two-color marble inlay in the foreground and a beautiful silver-inlaid brass basin with its Mamluk coat-of-arms hald by a Sudanese servant girl (as well as the inevitable Turkish tiles) indicate a will to ethnographic exactitude. Still, Gerome makes sure we see his nude subject as art as well as mere reportage. This he does by means of tactful reference to what might be called the "original Oriental backview"--Ingres's Valpinçon Bather. The abstract  linearism of Ingres is qualified and softened in Gerome's painting, but is clearly meant to signify the presence of tradition: Gerome has decked out the products of his flesh market with the signs of the artistic. His later work often reveals a kind of anxiety or a division--what might be called the Kitsch dilemma--between efforts to maintain the fiction of pure transparency--a so-called photographic realism--and the need to prove that he is more than a mere transcriber, that his work is artistic.
This anxiety is hieghtened when the subject in question is a female nude--that is to say, when an object of desire is concerned. Gerome's anxiety about proving his "artistic-ness" at the same time that he panders to the taste for naturalistic bodies and banal fantasy is revealed most obviously in his various paintings of artists and models, whether the artist in question is Pygmalion or simply Gerome himself in his studio. In the latter case, he depicts himself surrounded by testimonials to his professional achievement and his responsiveness to the classical tradition. For Gerome, the classical would seem to be a product that he confects matter-of-factly in his studio. The sign of the artistic--sometimes absorbed into, sometimes in obvious conflict with the fabric of the painting as a whole--is a hallmark of quality in the work of art, increasing its value as a product on the art market.

Manet, Edouard. Olympia 1863 Oil on canvas
51 3/8 x 74 3/4 in. (130.5 x 190 cm) Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Like the artistic back, the presence of the black servant in Gerome's Orientalist bath scenes serves what might be called connotative as well as strictly ethnographic purposes. We are of course familiar with the notion that the black servant somehow enhances the pearly beauty of her white mistress--a strategy employed from the time of Ingres, in an Orientalist mood, to that of Manet's Olympia, in which the black figure of the maid seems to be an indicator of sexual naughtiness. But in the purest distillations of the Orientalist bath scene--like Gerome's, or Debat-Ponsan's The Massage of 1883--the very passivity of the lovely white figure as opposed to the vigorous activity of the worn, unfeminine ugly black one, suggests that the passive nude beauty is explicitly being prepared for service in the sultan's bed. This sense of erotic availability is spiced with still more forbidden overtones, for the conjunction of black and white, or dark and light females bodies, whether naked or in the guise of mistress and maidservant, has traditionally signified lesbianism.18

Debat-Ponsan's The Massage of 1883
Like other artists of his time, Gerome sought out instances of the picturesque in the religious practices of the natives of the Middle East. This sort of religious ethnographic imagery attempted to create a sleek, harmonious vision of the Islamic world as traditional, pious, and unthreatening, in direct contradiction to the grim realities of history. On the one hand, the cultural and political violence visited on the Islamic peoples of France's own colony, Algeria, by specific laws enacted by the French legislature in the sixties had divided up the communally held lands of the native tribes. On the other hand, violence was visited against native religious practices by the French Society of Missionaries in Algeria, when, profiting from widespread famine at the end of 1867, they offered the unfortunate orphans who fell under their power food at the price of conversion. Finally, Algerian tribes reacted with religion-inspired violence to French oppression and colonization; in the Holy War of 1871, 100,000 tribesmen under Bachaga Mohammed Mokrani revolted under the banner of Islamic idealism.19
It is probably no coincidence that Gerome avoided French North Africa as the setting for his mosque paintings, choosing Cairo instead for these religious tableaux vivants, in which the worshippers seem as rigid, as rooted in the intricate grounding of tradition and as immobilized as the scrupulously recorded architecture which surrounds them and echoes their forms. Indeed, taxidermy rather than ethnography seems to be the informing discipline here: these images have something of the sense of specimens stuffed and mounted within settings of irreproachable accuracy in the natural-history museum, these paintings include everything within their boundaries--everything, that is, except a sense of life, the vivifying breath of shared human experience.
What are the functions of the picturesque, of which this sort of religious ethnography is one manifestation? Obviously, in Orientalist imagery of subject peoples' religious practices one of its functions is to mask conflict with the appearance of tranquility. The picturesque is pursued throughout the nineteenth century like a form of peculiarly elusive wildlife, requiring increasingly skillful tracking as the delicate prey--an endangered species--disappears farther and farther into the hinterlands, in France as in the Near East. The same society that was engaged in wiping out local customs and traditional practices was also avid to preserve them in the form of records--verbal, in the way of travel accounts or archival materials; musical, in the recording of folk songs; linguistic, in the study of dialects or folk tales; or visual, as here.
Yet surely, the very notion of the picturesque in its nineteenth-century manifestations is premised on the fact of destruction. Only on the brink of destruction, in the course of incipient modification and cultural dilution, are customs, costumes, and religious rituals of the dominated finally seen as picturesque. Reinterpreted as the precious remnants of disappearing ways of life, worth huting down and preserving, they are finally transformed into subjects of aesthetic delectation in an imagery in which exotic human beings are integrated with a presumably defining and overtly limiting decor. Another important function, then, of the picturesque--Orientalizing in this case--is to certify that the people encapsulated by it, defined by its presence, are irredeemably different from, more backward than, and culturally inferior to those who construct and consume the picturesque product. They are irrevocably "Other."
Orientalism, then, can be viewed under the aegis of the more general category of the picturesque, a category that can encompass a wide variety of visual objects and ideological strategies, extending from regional genre painting down to the photographs of smiling or dancing natives in the National Geographic. It is no accident that Gerome's North African Islamic procession and Jules Breton's or Dagnon-Bouveret's depictions of Breton Catholic ceremonies have a family resemblance. Both represent backward, oppressed peoples sticking to traditional practices. These works are united also by shared stylistic strategies: the "reality effect" and the strict avoidance of any hint of conceptual identification or shared viewpoint with their subjects, which could, for example, have been suggested by alternative conventions of representation.

Gustave Courbet, TheBurial at Ornans, 1849 oil on canvas, 51x58"
How does a work avoid the picturesque? There are, after all, alternatives. Neither Courbet's Burial at Ornans nor Gauguin's Day of the God falls within the category of the picturesque. Courbet, for whom the "natives" included his own friends and family, borrowed some of the conventions of popular imagery--conventions signifying the artist's solidarity, indeed identity, with the country people represented. At the same time he enlarged the format and insisted upon the--decidedly non-picturesque--insertion of contemporary costume. Gauguin, for his part, denied the picturesque by rejecting what he conceived of as the lies of illusionism and the ideology of progress--in resorting to flatness, decorative simplification, and references to "primitive" art--that is to say, by rejecting the signifiers of Western rationalism, progress, and objectivity in toto.

Gauguin, Paul. The Day of the God. 1894. Oil on canvas. 27 3/8 x 35 5/8 in. Chicago: Art Institute.
Delacroix's relation to the picturesque is central to an understanding of the nature and limits of nineteenth-century Orientalism. He admired Morocco when he saw it on his trip accompanying the Comte de Mornay's diplomatic mission in 1832, comparing Moroccans to classical senators and feverishly recording every aspect of Moroccan life in his notebooks. Nevertheless, he knew where to draw the line between Them and Us. For him, Morocco was inevitably picturesque. He clearly distinguished between its visual beauty--including the dignified, unselfconconscious deportment of the natives--which he treasured, and its moral quality, which he deplored. "This is a place," he wrote to his old friend Villot from Tangiers, "completely for painters. Economists and Saint-Simonians would have a lot to criticize here with respect to the rights of man before the law, but the beautiful abounds here."20 And he distinguished with equal clarity between the picturesqueness of North African people and settings in general, and the weaknesses of the Orientals' own vision of themselves in their art. Speaking of some Persian portraits and drawings, he remarks in the pages of his Journal that the sight of them "made me repeat what Voltaire said somewhere--that there are vast countries where taste has never penetrated. . . . There are in these drawings neither perspective nor any feeling for what is truly painting . . . the figures are immobile, the poses stiff, etc."21
The violence visited upon North African people by the West was rarely depicted by Orientalist painting; it was, in fact, denied in the painting of religious ethnography. But the violence of Orientals to each other was a favored theme. Strange and exotic punishments, hideous tortures, whether actual or potential, the marvelously scary aftermath of barbaric executions--these are a stock-in-trade of Orientalist art. Even a relatively benign subject like that represented in Leon Bonnat's Black Barber of Suez can suggest potential threat through the exaggerated contrast between muscularity and languor, the subtle overtones of Samson and Delilah.
In Henri Regnault's Execution Without Judgment Under the Caliphs of Granada of 1870, we are expected to experience afrisson by identifying with the victim, or rather, with his detached head, which (when the painting is correctly hung) comes right above the spectator's eye level. We are meant to look up at the gigantic, colorful, and dispassionate executioner as--shudder!--the victim must have only moments earlier. It is hard to imagine anyone painting an Execution by Guillotine Under Napoleon III for the same Salon. Although guillotining was still a public spectacle under the Second Empire and through the beginning of the Third Republic, it would not have been considered an appropriate artistic subject. For guillotining was considered rational punishment, not irrational spectacle--part of the domain of law and reason of the progressive West.
One function of Orientalist paintings like these is, of course, to suggest that their law is irrational violence; our violence, by contrast, is law. Yet it was precisely the imposition of "rational" Western law by Napoleon III's government on the customary practices of North Africa that tribesmen experienced most deeply as fatal violence. Nor was this violence unintended. The important laws pertaining to landed property in Algeria, imposed on the native population by the French from the 1850s through the mid-1870s--the Cantonment of 1856, the Senatus Consulte of 1863 and the Warnier Law of ten years later--were conceived as measures which would lead to the destruction of the fundamental structures of the economy and of the traditional society--measures of legally approved violence, in other words. And they were experienced as such by Algerian natives, who felt their speedy, devastating effects as a savage lopping off of the head of traditional tribal existence, and execution without judgment.
A French army officer, Captain Vaissiere, in his study of the Ouled Rechaïch, published in Algiers in 1863, relates that when this group found out that the law of the Senatus Consulte was going to be applied to their tribe, they were thrown into consternation, so clearly were they aware of the desturctive power contained in this measure. "The French defeated us in the plain of Sbikha," declared one old man. "They killed our young men; they forced us to make a war contribution when they occupied our territories. All that was nothing; wounds eventually heal. But the setting up of private property and the authorization given each individual to sell his share of the land [which was what Senatus Consulte provided for], this means the death sentence for the tribe, and twenty years after these measures have been carried out, the Ouled Rechaïch will have ceased to exist."22

Horace Vernet's Capture of the Smala of Abd-el-Kader at Taguin, May 16, 1843
It is not completely accurate to state that the violence inflicted by the West--specifically, by the French in North Africa--was never depicted by the artists of the period--although, strictly speaking, such representations fall under the rubric of "battle painting" rather than Orientalist genre. "At the origin of the picturesque is war," declared Sartre at the beginning of his analysis of French colonial violence in Situations V in 1954. A painting like Horace Vernet's Capture of the Smala of Abd-el-Kader at Taguin, May 16, 1843, a vast panorama exhibited along with six pages of catalogue description in the Salon of 1845, seems a literal illustration of Sartre's contention.23 This minutely detailed pictorial commemoration of the victory of the Due d'Aumale's French troops over thirty thousand noncombatants--old men, women, children, as well as the treasure and flocks of the native chief, who was leading the rebellion against French military domination at the time--seems fairly clear in its political implications, its motivations fairly transparent.

 Delacroix, "Moulay-Abd-el-Rabmar, Sultan of Morocco" 1845
What is less clear today is the relation of two other works, also in the Salon of 1845, to the politics of violence in North Africa at this time. The Salon of 1845 was the Salon immediately following the crucial Battle of Isly--the climax of French action against the Algerian rebel forces led by Abd-el-Kader and his ally,  Sultan Abd-el-Rahman of Morocco. After the destruction of his smala, or encampment, at Taguin--the very incident depicted by Horace Vernet--Abd-el-Kader was chased from his country and took refuge in Morocco. There he gained the support of Sultan Abd-el-Rahman--the very sultan that Delacroix had sketched and whose reception he had so minutely described when he had visited Meknes with the Comte de Mornay on a friendly diplomatic mission more than ten years earlier.
Delacroix had originally planned to commemorate the principal event of Mornay's mission by including, in a prominent position, members of the French delegation at the sultan's reception. Although it exists as a sketch, this version of the painting was never brought to completion, for the event it was supposed to commemorate--Mornay's carefully worked out treaty with sultan--failed to lead to the desired detente with Morocco. Delacroix's projected painting would no longer have been appropriate or politically tactful. When the defeated Abd-el-Kader sought refuge with the sultan of Morocco after the defeat at Isly, Moroccan affairs abruptly took a turn for the worse. The French fleet, with English, Spanish, and American assistance, bombarded Tangiers and Mogador, and Abd-el-Rahman was forced to eject the Algerian leader from his country. The defeated sultan of Morocco was then forced to negotiate a new treaty, which was far more advantageous to the French. Moroccan affairs having become current events, the journalL'Illustration asked Delacroix to contribute some North African drawings for its account of the new peace treaty and its background, and he complied.
It is clear, then, why Delacroix took up the subject again for his monumental painting in 1845, but in a new form with different implications, based on a new political reality. In the final version (now in the Musee des Augustins, Toulouse), it is a vanquished opponent who is represented. He is dignified, surrounded by his entourage, but an entourage that includes the defeated leaders of the fight against the French and as such constitutes a reminder of French prowess. In Delacroix's Moulay-Abd-el-Rahman, Sultan of Morocco, Leaving His Palace at Meknes, Surrounded by His Guard and His Principal Officers[7], as it was called in the Salon catalogue of 1845, there is no longer any question of mingling the French presence with the Moroccan one.24

 Delacroix, "Moulay-Abd-el-Rabmar, Sultan of Morocco" 1845
In the same Salon appeared a painting which is always compared to Delacroix's Sultan of Morocco: Theodore Chasseriau's equestrian Portrait of Kalif Ali-Ben Hamet (or Ahmed) Followed by His Escort. Indeed, in the Rochester Orientalism catalogue, Chasseriau's painting is described as "inevitably recalling Delacroix's portrait," although more "detailed and portrait-like."25 But Chasseriau's is actually a very different image, serving a radically different purpose. It is actually a commissioned portrait of an Algerian chieftain friendly to the French, who, with his entourage, was being wined and dined by the French authorities in Paris at the time.26
Ali-Ben Ahmed, in short, unlike the uncooperative and defeated Abd-el-Rahman, was a leader who triumphed as a cat's-paw of the French. The relationships between the two works, then, is much more concrete than some vague bond created by their compostional similarity--they are actually quite different in their structure--or the obfuscating umbrella category of Orientalism. For it is a concrete relationship of opposition or antagonism, political and ideological, that is at issue here. Indeed, if we consider all the other representations of North African subjects in the Salon of 1845--and there were quite a few--merely as examples of Orientalism, we inevitably miss their significance as political, diplomatic, and military affairs in the inspirational territory of Orientalism, the very notion of "Orientalism" itself in the visual arts is simply a category of obfuscation, masking important distinctions under the rubric of the picturesque, supported by the illusion of the real.
How then should we deal with this art? Art historians are, for the most part, reluctant to proceed in anything but the celebratory mode. If Gerome ostensibly vulgarizes and "naturalizes" a motif by Delacroix, he must be justified in terms of his divergent stylistic motives, his greater sense of accuracy, or his affinities with "tonal control and sense of values of a Terborch or a Pieter do Hooch."27 In other words, he must be assimilated to the canon. Art historians who, on the other hand, wish to maintain the canon as it is--that is, who assert that the discipline of art history should concern itself only with major masterpieces created by great artists--simply say that Orientalists like Gerome--that is to say, the vast majority of those producing Orientalist work in the nineteenth century (or who even appeared in the Salons at all)--are simply not worth studying. In the view of such art historians, artists who cannot be included in the category of great art should be ignored as though they had never existed.
Yet it seems to me that both positions--on the one hand, that which sees the exclusion of nineteenth-century academic art from the sacred precincts as the result of some art dealers' machinations or an avant-garde cabal; and on the other, that which sees the wish to include them as a revisionist plot to weaken the quality of high art as a category--are wrong. Both are based on the notion of art history as a positive rather than a critical discipline. Works like Gerome's, and that of other Orientalistsof his ilk, are valuable and well worth investigating not because they share the aesthetic values of great art on a slightly lower level, but because as visual imagery they anticipate and predict the qualities of incipient mass culture. As such, their strategies of concealment lend themselves admirably to the critical methodologies, the deconstructive techniques now employed by the best film historians, or by sociologists of advertising imagery, or by analysts of visual propaganda, rather than those of mainstream art history. As a fresh visual territory to be investigated by scholars armed with historical and political awareness and analytic sophistication, Orientalism--or rather its deconstruction--offers a challenge to art historians, as do many other similarly obfuscated areas of our discipline.
Notes1. Organized by Donald A. Rosenthal, the exhibition appeared at the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester (Aug. 27-Oct. 17, 1982) and at the Neuberger Museum. State University of New York, Purchase (Nov. 14-Dec. 23, 1982). It was accompanied by a catalogue-book prepared by Rosenthal. This article is based on a lecture presented in Purchase when the show was on view there.
2. Donald A. Rosenthal, Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800-1880 (Rochester, 1982), pp. 8-9, italics added.
3. The insights offered by Said's Orientalism(New York, 1978) are central to the arguments developed in this study. However, Said's book does not deal with the visual arts at all.
4. Driault, pp. 187 ff., cited in George E. Kirk, A Short History of the Middle East (New York, 1964), pp. 85-86.
5. J. F. B., "Gerome, the Painter," The California Art Gallery 1-4 (1873): 51-52. I am grateful to William Gerdts for bringing this material to my attention.
6. Leo Bersani. "Le Realisme et la peur du desir," in Litterature et realite, ed. G. Genette and T. Todorov (Paris, 1982), p. 59.
7. Richard Ettinghausen in Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904), exhibition catalogue, Dayton Art Institute, 1972, p. 18. Edward Said has pointed out to me in conversation that most of the so-called writing on the back wall of the Snake Charmer is in fact unreadable.
8. Roland Barthes. "L'Effet de reel," in Litterature et realite. pp. 81-90.
9. Cited by Kenneth Beninder, "The Portrayal of the Middle East in British Painting 1835-1860," Ph.D. Dissertation. Columbia University, 1979, pp. 110-11. Beninder cites many other instances and has assembled visual representations of the theme as well.
10. See, for example, Bayle St. John's Village Life in Egypt, originally published in 1852, reprinted 1973, I, pp. 13, 36, and passim.
11. The best general discussion of Delacroix's Death of Sardanapalus is Jack Spector's Delacroix: The Death of Sardanapalus, Art in Context Series (New York, 1974). This study deals with the relationship of the work to Delacroix's psychosexuality, as well as embedding the painting in the context of its literary and visual sources. The footnotes contain references to additional literature on the painting. For other discoveries about Delacroix's use of Oriental sources, see D. Rosenthal. "A Mughal Portrait Copied by Delacroix," Burlington Magazine CXIX (1977): 505-6, and Lee Johnson, "Towards Delacroix's Oriental Sources," Burlington Magazine CXX (1978): 144-51.
12. Cabanel's Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Her Servants (1887) has been suggested to me by several (male) art historians as coming close to fitting the bill. But of course the scenario is entirely different in Cabanel's painting. First of all, the male victims are not the sex objects in the painting: it is their female destroyer who is. And secondly, the painting is, like Delacroix's, by a man, not a woman: again, it is a product of male fantasy, and its sexual frisson depends on the male gaze directed upon a female object, just as it does in Delacroix's painting.
13. For a rich and suggestive analysis of this myth in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, see Alain Grosrichard, Structure du Serail: La Fiction du despotisme asiatique dans l'occident classique (Paris, 1979).
14. This is pointed out by Spector throughout his study, but see especially p. 69.
15. For public reaction to the picture, see Spector, pp. 75-85.
16. Cited in Fanny F. Hering, Gerome, His Life and Work (New York, 1892), p. 117.
17. These issues are addressed in greater detail in "Manet's Masked Ball at the Opera"; see Chapter 5.
18. For a discussion of lesbian imagery in Orientalist painting, see Rosenthal, Orientalism, p. 98.
19. Claude Martin. Histoire de l'Algerie francaise, 1830-1962 (Paris, 1963), p. 201.
20. Letter of February 29, 1832, Correspondance generale de Eugene Delacroix, A. Joubin, ed. (Paris, 1936), I, pp. 316-17.
21. Entry of March 11, 1850, Journal de Eugene Delacroix, ed. A. Joubin (Paris, 1950), I, p. 348.
22. Cited in Pierre Bourdieu. The Algerians, trans. A. C. M. Ross (Boston, 1962), pp. 120-21.
23. For an illustration of this work, now in the Musee de Versailles, and an analysis of it from a different viewpoint, see Albert Boime. "New [?] Manet's Execution of Maximilian," Art Quarterly XXXVI (Autumn 1973), fig. 1 and p. 177 and note 9, p. 177.
24. For an extremely thorough account of the genesis of this painting, the various versions of the subject and the political circumstances in which it came into being, see Elie Lambert, Histoire d'un tableau: "L'Abd el Rahman. Sultan de Maroc" de Delacroix, Institut des Hautes Etudes Marocaines, no. 14 (Paris, 1953), pp. 249-58. Lee Johnson, in "Delacroix's Road to the Sultan of Morocco," Apollo CXV (March 1982): 186-89, demonstrates convincingly that the gate from which the sultan emerges in the 1845 painting is not, as is usually thought, the Bab Mansour, the principal gate to Meknes, but more likely is a free variation on the Bab Berdaine, which did not figure in the ceremonial occasion.
25. Rosenthanl, Orientalism, pp. 57-58.
26. For information about Chasseriau's portrait and its subject, see Leonce Benedite. Theodore Chasseriau, sa vie et son oeuvre (Paris, 1932) I, pp. 234 ff., and Marc Sandoz. Theodore Chasseriau, 1819-1856 (Paris, 1974), p. 101.
27. Gerald Ackerman, cited in Rosenthal, Orientalism, p. 80. Also see Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Leon Gerome (London and New York: Sotheby's, 1986), pp. 52-53.