HISTORY OF MODERN FRANCE
From the Pre-Revolutionary period to the 3rd Republic 1770-1870 - Part II
14 December 2022
Art and Revolution:
David and his Followers, 1789-1799
with Chris Boïcos
In 1789, the year of the beginning of the French Revolution, Jacques Louis-David was the undisputed master of French painting. He enthusiastically embraced the new political movement in part because of his old grudge against royal institutions after the repeated rejections of his work by the Royal Academy in the Prix de Rome competitions of the 1770s. In the early 1790s David becomes virtually the official artist of the French Revolution producing not only some of its greatest paintings – “The Oath of the Tennis Court” and the “Death of Marat” – but also designs for the new regime’s official costumes, its pageants and festivals. David will also train in his Paris studio the new generation of neoclassical artists who will come to dominate French art for the next 30 years: Girodet, Gérard, Gros, Fabre, Wicar and Ingres.
The collapse of the French monarchy and is ancient institutions, including the Royal Academy of Art, the planning of a new museum in the old royal palace of the Louvre and the opening up of the Salons to non-academic artists will also revolutionize the French art world. Throughout, the Neoclassical style remains the dominant mode in art, its compositions and references astutely adapting to the new political and social climate.
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