Monday, November 18, 2013

Neoclassicism (pt. 3)

Now, we know what started the French Revolution, and we understand a little better what it meant in its historical context; but what did the Revolution mean to art?  Many artists, such as Marie-Louise-Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun, Marie Antoinette's portraitist, had to flee France and did not return until peace was restored.  She continued to paint, but her portraits after the Revolution typically featured people with sad, fearful expressions, like her painting called The Bather and her famous portrait of Madame de la Châtre.  Her style had always included giving people large, expressive eyes in their paintings and making them look more attractive, but after the Revolution her paintings became filled with anxiety and woe.  Her sitters appear frightened of the world and insecure about the future.  In historical hindsight an observer might mark that these figures perhaps had good reason for their apprehension.

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