Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Duc de Chartres at Valmy (1848)

Éloi Firmin Féron: The Duc de Chartres at Valmy, 1792

Féron was a Neoclassicist painter and student of Antoine-Jean Gros.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Jacques Cartier Discovering the Saint Lawrence River (1847)

Théodore Gudin: Jacques Cartier Discovering and 
Going Up-stream the Saint Lawrence River in Canada in 1535

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chatou (1847)

Henri Joseph Harpignies: Chatou

Harpignies was a painter in the Barbizon landscape school. His choice of Chatou as a subject clearly anticipates the Impressionists, particularly Renoir, who spent a lot of time there and devoted a number of paintings to it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Wrath of Achilles (1847)

François-Léon Benouville: The Wrath of Achilles

He looks more puzzled than mad, but maybe that's just me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Abduction of Rebecca (1846)

Eugène Delacroix: The Abduction of Rebecca

This is not the first time a painting on this subject has been featured on this blog.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Battle of Isly (1846)

Horace Vernet: The Battle of Isly

This battle was part of the French campaign to conquer Algeria.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Retreat from the Storm (ca. 1846)

Jean-François Millet: Retreat from the Storm

Millet (1814-1875) was one of the founders of the Barbizon school in rural France. He is noted for his scenes of peasant farmers; he can be categorized as part of the Realism art movement.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Odalisque au Nargile (1846)

Gabriel Auguste Claire Armand de Fraguier: Odalisque au Nargile

"Odalisque" is the term for a harem girl; "nargile" refers to the hookah pipe.

This is one of the few paintings where the painter's name is longer than the title of the painting!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Wife of King Candaules (1846)

Charles-Victoire-Frederic Moench: The Wife of King Candaules

The scene depicts King Candaules showing his sleeping wife to the servant Gyges. Candaules was a king of the ancient Kingdom of Lydia from 735 BC to 718 BC. The earliest known version of the story was related by Herodotus in the fifth century BC.
   According to The Histories of Herodotus, Candaules bragged of his wife's incredible beauty to his favourite bodyguard Gyges. "It appears you don't believe me when I tell you how lovely my wife is," said Candaules. "A man always believes his eyes better than his ears; so do as I tell you - contrive to see her naked."
   Gyges refused; he did not wish to dishonor the Queen like a more common woman by seeing her nude body. He also feared what the King might do to him if he did accept.
   Candaules was insistent, and Gyges had no choice but to obey. Candaules detailed a plan by which Gyges would hide behind a door in the royal bedroom to observe the Queen disrobing before bed. Gyges would then leave the room while the Queen's back was turned.
   That night, the plan was executed. However, the Queen saw Gyges as he left the room, and recognized immediately that she had been betrayed and shamed by her own husband. She silently swore to have her revenge, and began to arrange her own plan.
   The next day, the Queen summoned Gyges to her chamber. Although Gyges thought nothing of the routine request, she confronted him immediately with her knowledge of his misdeed and her husband's. "One of you must die," she declared. "Either my husband, the author of this wicked plot; or you, who have outraged propriety by seeing me naked."
   The Queen prepared for Gyges to kill Candaules. Gyges hid behind the door of the bedroom chamber with a knife provided by the Queen, and killed him in his sleep. Gyges married the Queen and became King.

Moench was a son of Simon Frederic Moench. Like his father, he was a well-known stage designer, but also a portraitist, historical and landscape artist and court interior painter. His decorative paintings can be seen in the Galerie de Diane and in the Garde de Salle (both in Fontainebleau) and in the Salle de Clarac in the Louvre. [Christies]

This particular legend was a favorite subject of painters for centuries (I wonder why?).

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ali-Ben-Hamet, Caliph of Constantinople (1845)

Théodore Chassériau: Ali-Ben-Hamet, Caliph of Constantinople 
and Chief of the Haractas, Followed by his Escort

In the same Salon [1845] appeared a painting which is always compared to Delacroix's Sultan of Morocco: Théodore Chassériau's equestrian Portrait of Kalif Ali-Ben Hamet (or Ahmed) Followed by His Escort. Indeed, in the Rochester Orientalism catalogue, Chassériau's painting is described as "inevitably recalling Delacroix's portrait," although more "detailed and portrait-like." But Chassériau'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.

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 relationship between the two works, then, is much more concrete than some vague bond created by their compositional 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 documents at a time of particularly active military intervention in North Africa. In other words, in the case of imagery directly related to 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. [Linda Nochlin, "The Imaginary Orient," in Visual Culture: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, Joanne Morra and Marquand Smith, eds., pp. 19-36, quote above from p. 33.]

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pharamond Proclaimed King after Pillaging the City of Trier (1841-45)

Pierre Henri Révoil and Michel Philibert Genod: 
Pharamond Proclaimed King after Pillaging the City of Trier in 420, Carried on the Shield

This painting was begun by Révoil in 1841 and completed by Genod in 1845.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014