Saturday, May 31, 2014

Columbus and His Son at La Rábida (1838)

Eugène Delacroix: Columbus and His Son at La Rábida

The hero, the individual of talent and passion who follows a difficult, solitary path to greatness, was central to romanticism. Here is Columbus at the final moment of frustration before his ultimate triumph. Almost penniless, he and his son have sought shelter in the monastery of La Rábida, where, according to legendary accounts, word of the fateful meeting with Queen Isabella would soon arrive.

Calm rectangular forms dominate: the juncture of walls and ceiling, the parade of dark canvases down the hall, the large map that Columbus contemplates. The figure groups have solid geometrical form. Even the colors are quiet: the monks' habits, the soft light and brown shadows - only the plume of Columbus' hat, which points to him as protagonist, interrupts this muted range. Neither the tone nor composition matches our image of Delacroix as the champion of color and exuberant form. More typical of his work, for example, are the bright color accents and dynamic zigzagging energy of Arabs Skirmishing. Columbus and His Son is one of a pair - the second painting (Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio), much richer in color and effect, shows the explorer returning in triumph - and it seems likely that Delacroix wanted to underscore radically opposed circumstances by corresponding differences in feel. [National Gallery of Art]

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Capture of Constantine (1838)

Horace Vernet: The Capture of Constantine in 1837

This battle was part of the French conquest of Algeria.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

François de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, receiving the surrender of Spanish troops (1837)

Hortense Haudebourt-Lescot: François de Lorraine, Duke of Guise, 
receiving the surrender of Spanish troops after the Capture of Thionville, June 23, 1558

Monday, May 26, 2014

Annointing of Pepin the Short (1837)

François Dubois: Anointing of Pepin the Short at Saint-Denis, 28 July 754

Pepin the Short was the son of Charles Martel and the father of Charlemagne. He was the first Carolingian king of France.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Battle of Jena (1836)

Horace Vernet: The Battle of Jena, October 14th 1806

The Battle of Jena, between the French and Prussians, was a decisive victory for the French and subjugated Prussia to Napoleon's empire (until around 1812).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Diana Surprised at her Bath (1836)

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot: Diana Surprised at her Bath

A depiction of the myth of the goddess Diana who, upon discovering a mortal (Actaeon) has spied on her and her maidens bathing, turns him into a stag who is then torn apart by her hounds. You can see the small figure of Actaeon at the far left of the painting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

Saint Cecilia and the Angels (1836)

Paul Delaroche: Saint Cecilia and the Angels

Cecilia was the patron saint of music. She was a favorite subject of painters, to wit:

 Jacques Blanchard

 John Melhuish Strudwick
 John William Waterhouse
Orazio Gentileschi

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Drawn Portraits (1836)

These are by Ingres.

 Portrait of Alexis Rene Le Go

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Battle of Castiglione (1836)

Jean Victor Adam: Battle of Castiglione

The Battle of Castiglione was fought in August 1796 between a French army under the command of then General Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces led by Feldmarschall Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser. The result was a French victory.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Napoleon at the Battle of Friedland (1836)

Horace Vernet: Napoleon at the Battle of Friedland, 1807

The Battle of Friedland resulted in a decisive victory for the French over a Russian army. The aftermath of this battle is considered the high point of Napoleon's empire.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Erection of the Luxor Obelisk (1836)

François Dubois: Erection of the Luxor Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde

Plunder from Egypt goes on display.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Siege of Yorktown (1836)

Auguste Couder: Siege of Yorktown, 17 October 1781

A French tribute to the American Revolution.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Suicide (ca. 1836)

Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps: The Suicide

This somber subject is one not often depicted in painting. The lighting and color scheme make this a very effective, brooding image.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (1836)

Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard: Scene in the Bedroom of 
Marguerite de Valois during the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre

Marguerite de Valois was Queen of France and Navarre, wife of Henry III.  A major complication of their life was that she was Catholic, he Protestant. The fact that they lived during the period of the French Wars of Religion didn't help matters. The St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre was one of the significant events of the period - essentially, an anti-Protestant pogrom which may have been set in motion by the machinations of the Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici.

Margaret has been credited with saving the lives of several prominent Protestants, including her husband's, during the massacre, by keeping them in her rooms and refusing to admit the assassins. Henry of Navarre had to feign conversion to Catholicism.

After more than three years of confinement at court, Henry escaped Paris in 1576, leaving his wife behind. Finally granted permission to return to her husband in Navarre, for the next three and a half years Margaret and her husband lived in Pau. Both openly kept other lovers, and they quarrelled frequently.