Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Sons of Clovis II (1880)

Evariste Luminais: The Sons of Clovis II

This demonstration of parental discipline of the Merovingian period remains shocking more than a century after its completion. It says much for the grotesquery of nineteenth-century Salon painting, of which it is so spectacular an example, that The Sons of Clovis II is still a collection favourite. Alarmed by her sons' rebellion against their absent father, King Clovis, their mother - the regent Sainte Bathilde - has their tendons cut before sending them, immobilised, downstream on a barge to their fate. Though Luminais foreshadows the salvation of the malefactors in the distant shape of a Benedictine monastery, he is clearly more concerned with their present gruesome predicament. His great success with this painting in the Paris Salon of 1880 was not repeated, its cadaverous sensationalism proving a hard act to follow. [Art Gallery NSW]

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