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The role of Old Master prototypes in the development of painting in France circa 1840-1900.

The role of Old Master prototypes in the development of painting in France circa 1840-1900.

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Jennifer Duignam. Originally submitted for History of Art and Architecture , with lecturer Dr. Philip McEvansoneya in the category of Modern Cultural Studies
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Jennifer Duignam. Originally submitted for History of Art and Architecture , with lecturer Dr. Philip McEvansoneya in the category of Modern Cultural Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
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06/14/2014

 
 Undergraduate Awards Entry 2012
The role of Old Master prototypes in the development of painting in Francecirca 1840-1900.
 
Abstract
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.
 
The role of Old Master prototypes in the development of painting in Francecirca 1840-1900.
Looking back on the developments that took place in French art during the years1840-1900, it seems that at times painting deliberately sought to break away fromthe examples of what had gone before. From Realism to Impressionism, artistsduring this period actively sought to develop a new visual language which couldrepresent their changing times, focusing on new subjects, new techniques and newapproaches to painting in an effort to capture the spirit of modernity. However, uponcloser inspection of paintings from this time, one begins to notice the ways in whichcertain traditional themes and motifs remain ingrained in their art, and in particularthe strong influence of the Renaissance & the Dutch Golden Age on artists. This essayaims to explore the role of such
“Old Master prototypes”
in French painting duringthe period 1840-1900 and to trace this influence through the works of some of themost significant artists of the period. It will focus primarily on figurative art, that isart which depicts the human figure, though it should be noted that landscapepainting of this period owes a debt to the art of previous masters too, most notablyClaude Lorrain, Nicolas Poussin & Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael. To begin, we must firstexplain what we mean by the term prototype and how it applies to painting, whilealso exploring the ways in which artists during the period accessed these sources.In general terms, the word prototype means the first example of something,such as a machine or other industrial product, from which all later forms are

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