This essay explores the influence of the so-called Old Masters on the development of painting in France during the period 1840-1900. The art world during these years saw anumber of significant changes, as painters sought to break away from the well-establishedtraditions of classically influenced subject matter and style to forge a new and innovativeapproach to painting. It was during this time that artists such as Delacroix and Ingres, Manet
and Monet, Degas and Renoir, all flourished. The movement known as “Impressionism”
came into being. And yet, for all these changes, the influence and importance of Old Masterprototypes remained a constant feature in the work of these artists. This essay attempts totrace these influences through the artworks of a variety of painters working in France duringthe second half of the nineteenth century, to show that although the ideals of art may havebeen changing, artists remained continuously indebted to those who had gone before.
The essay describes what is meant by the term “Old Master Prototypes,” before moving on
to explain the ways in which artists working in nineteenth century France may haveencountered such artworks during the course of their studies. Using artists such as Courbet,Manet, and Renoir, the essay then attempts to trace the links between some of these
painter’s most famous artworks and those of artists such as R
aphael, Titian, Michelangelo,and Rembrandt.