Social History of Art, Volume 3: Rococo, Classicism and Romanticism

Timeline of Art History
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Previously they had not only often felt themselves menaced by the same danger, they had frequently had common administrative 7 problems to solve, and this had automatically brought them closer together. But the relationship deteriorated when the nobility realized that the middle class was its most dangerous rival. From then the king had to intervene again and again and to reconcile the jealous nobility; for, although he apparently dominated both parties, he had to make constant concessions and show favour now to one now to the other. Since the Edict of the middle class had been totally excluded from the army.

The material equality and practical superiority of the middle class provoked the nobility to stress the unlikeness of their descent and the difference of their traditions. But with the increasing similarity of the external conditions of both classes, the hostility of the bourgeoisie towards the nobility also became more intense.

So long as they were excluded from climbing the social scale, it never occurred to them to compare themselves with the upper classes; it was not until the possibility of rising was given them that they became really aware of the existing social injustice, and began to regard the privileges of the nobility as intolerable.

In a word, the more the nobility lost of its real power, the more obstinately it clung to the privileges which it still enjoyed and the more ostentatiously it displayed them; on the other hand, the more material goods the middle class acquired, the more shameful it considered the social discrimination from which it was suffering and the more exasperatedly it fought for political equality. Under Louis XVI the bourgeoisie of the ancien regime reached the zenith of its intellectual and material development.

Material needs increased and spread; and not merely people like bankers and tax-farmers climbed higher up the social ladder and vied with the nobility in their style of life, but the middle sections of the bourgeoisie also profited from the boom and took an increasing part in cultural life. The country in which the revolution broke out was, therefore, by no means economically exhausted; it was rather merely an insolvent state with a rich middle class. The bourgeoisie gradually took possession of all the instruments of culture—it not only wrote the books, it also read them, it not only painted the pictures, it also bought them.

In the preceding century it had still formed only a comparatively modest section of the art and reading public, but now it is the cultured class par excellence and becomes the real upholder of culture. It is not much interested in the Greek writers and these now gradually disappear from libraries; it despises the Middle Ages, Spain has become a more or less unknown territory, its relationship to Italy has not yet properly developed, and will never become so cordial as the relations between court society and the Italian Renaissance in the preceding two centuries.

The French middle class of the eighteenth century is by no means any more uniform than was the Italian middle class of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. To be sure, there is nothing corresponding to the struggle for the control of the guilds, but there is just as intense a conflict between the various economic interests as there was then.

There is never any mention in the eighteenth century of the privileges of the middle class, people pretend never to have heard of them, but the privileged resist every reform that would extend their opportunities to the lower classes. So long as these elements dominate the intellectual life of the nation in equal proportions, that is, until the middle of the century, art and literature are in a state of transition and are full of contradictory, often scarcely reconcilable tendencies, they waver between tradition and freedom, formalism and spontaneity, ornamentalism and expression.

And even in the second half of the century, when liberalism and emotionalism get the upper hand, the ways only divide more sharply, but the different tendencies remain side by side. To be sure, they undergo a change of function, and classicism in particular, which 11 was a courtly-aristocratic style, becomes the vehicle of the ideas of the progressive middle class.

It begins with the criticism of the academic doctrine, which attempted to represent the classical ideal in art as a timelessly valid principle established, as it were, by God himself, quite in the same terms as the official political theory of the time interpreted the absolute monarchy. Nothing better describes the liberalism and relativism of the new age than the statement made by Antoine Coypel, which no previous director of the Academy would have approved, that painting, like all human things, is subject to the change of fashion.

It no longer expresses grandeur and power but the beauty and grace of life, and no longer wants to impress and overwhelm but to charm and please. The later Regent already turns against the artistic trend favoured by Louis XIV and demands more lightness and fluidity from his artists, a more sensual and more delicate formal language than is in use at the court.

The place of the heroic landscape is taken by the idyllic scenery of the pastorals, and the portrait which hitherto had been intended for the public, becomes a trivial, popular genre serving mostly private purposes; everybody who can afford it has his portrait painted now. Two hundred portraits are exhibited in the Salon of , as compared with fifty in the Salon of The formation of the new public made up of the progressivelyminded aristocracy and the art-minded upper middle class, the doubt that is now cast on hitherto acknowledged authorities in the world of art, the bursting of the bounds of the old, narrowly restricted subject-matter, all this contributes to make possible the emergence of the greatest French painter before the nineteenth century.

In the last two centuries before his arrival, art had been under foreign influence in France: the Renaissance, mannerism and the baroque were imported from Italy and the Netherlands. In France, where the whole court life was guided, to begin with, by 13 foreign models, court ceremonial and monarchist propaganda were also expressed in foreign, especially Italian art forms. These forms then became so intimately bound up with the idea of royalty and the court that they acquired an institutional tenacity and remained valid as long as the court was the centre of artistic life.

Watteau painted the life of a society into which he could look only from outside, he portrayed an ideal that obviously had only external points of contact with his own aims in life, and he gave form to a Utopia of freedom which was probably no more than merely analogous to his own subjective idea of freedom, but he created these visions from the elements of his own direct experience, from sketches of the trees in the Luxembourg, of theatre scenes which he could and certainly did see every day, and of types of character of his own, albeit enchantingly disguised environment. The profundity of his art is due to the ambivalence of his relationship to the world, to the expression of both the promise and the inadequacy of life, to the always present feeling of an inexpressible loss and an unattainable goal, to the knowledge of a lost homeland and the Utopian remoteness of real happiness.

In spite of the delight in the senses and the beauty, the joyful surrender to reality and the pleasure in the good things of the earth, which form the immediate theme of his art, what he paints is full of melancholy. In all his pictures he describes a society menaced by the unrealizable nature of its desires. But what is expressed here is still by no means the Rousseauish feeling, by no means the yearning for the state of nature, but, on the contrary, a longing for the perfect culture, for the tranquil and secure joy of living. It describes the peace of the countryside, the haven of security from the great world and the self-forgetting happiness of lovers.

This ideal is, of course, by no means new; it is merely a variation on the formula of the poets of the Roman Empire, who combined the legend of the Golden Age with the pastoral idea. The only novelty, as compared with the Roman version, is that the bucolic world is now disguised in the fashions of polite society, the shepherds and shepherdesses wear the stylish costume of the age, and all that remains of the pastoral situation are the conversations of the lovers, the natural framework and the remoteness from the life of the court and the city.

But is even all that new? Was not the pastoral from the very beginning a fiction, a playful dissimulation, a mere coquetting with the idyllic state of innocence and simplicity? Is it conceivable that ever since there has existed a pastoral poetry, that is, since the existence of a highly developed urban and court life, anyone has ever really wanted to lead the simple, modest life of shepherds and peasants?

It was a kind of sport to imagine oneself in a situation which held the promise of liberation from the fetters of civilization whilst retaining its advantages. The attractions of the painted and perfumed ladies were intensified by attempting to represent them, painted and perfumed as they were, in the guise of fresh, healthy and innocent peasant maidens, and by enhancing the charms of art with those of nature.

The fiction contained from the outset the preconditions which allowed it to become the symbol of freedom in every complicated and sophisticated culture. It is not without good reason that the literary tradition of pastoral poetry can look back on an almost uninterrupted history of over two thousand years since its beginnings in Hellenism. Apart from the thematic material of the novel of chivalry, there is probably no other subject-matter 15 that has occupied the literature of Western Europe for so long and maintained itself against the assaults of rationalism with such tenacity.

Even the idylls of Theocritus himself owe their existence not, as might be imagined, to genuine roots in nature and a direct relationship to the life of the common people, but to a reflective feeling for nature and a romantic conception of the common folk, that is, to sentiments which have their origin in a yearning for the remote, the strange and the exotic. The peasant and the shepherd are not enthusiastic about their surroundings or about their daily work. And interest in the life of the simple folk is, as we know, to be sought neither in spatial nor social proximity to the peasantry; it does not arise in the folk itself but in the higher classes, and not in the country but in the big towns and at the courts, in the midst of bustling life and an over-civilized, surfeited society.

Pastoral scenes, although without the lyrical touch of the Idylls, were to be found before Theocritus, at any rate, in the mime. They are a matter of course in the satyr plays, and rural scenes are not unknown even to tragedy. But Theocritus still took a delight in simple descriptions of pastoral life, whereas his first independent successor, Virgil, no longer takes any pleasure in realistic description, and the pastoral poem acquires with him that allegorical form which marks the most important turning point in the history of the genre.

It appears that Theocritus only felt alarmed by the court with its constant struggle for success and the big city with the agitated pace of its life; Virgil already had more grounds for escaping from his contemporary world. The century-long civil war was hardly over, his own youth was contemporaneous with the bloodiest of the fighting, and the Augustan peace was more a mere hope than a reality, when he was writing his Eclogues.

Social History of Art, Volume 3: Rococo, Classicism and Romanticism

The medieval pastoral links up directly with the Virgilian allegory. It is true that there are only scanty remains of pastoral poetry from the centuries between the downfall of the ancient world and the rise of medieval court and city culture, and what has come down to us of the genre is the product of mere learning and the deposit of mere reminiscences of classical poets, above all of Virgil. Simultaneously with the rise of the pastoral novel, which gives a new turn to the development, 17 bucolic motifs also occur in the Italian Renaissance short story, but they lack the romantic traits with which they are connected in the idyll, the pastoral novel and the pastoral drama.

This romantic tendency is predominant throughout the pastorals of Lorenzo di Medici, Jacopo Sannazzaro, Castiglione, Ariosto, Tasso, Guarini and Marino, and proves that literary fashion at the courts of the Italian Renaissance, whether in Florence, Naples, Urbino, Ferrara or Bologna, conforms to one and the same model. Pastoral poetry is everywhere the mirror of court life and serves the reader as a sample of courtly manners.

It is understandable that this pastoral poetry with its refinement and allegory, its intermingling of the far and near, of the immediate and the unusual, is one of the most popular genres of mannerism and that it is cultivated with particular affection in Spain, the classical land of courtly etiquette and mannerism. To begin with, the Italian models, which spread all over Europe along with courtly modes of life, are followed even here; but the individuality of the country soon breaks through and is expressed in the combination of the elements of the novel of chivalry and the pastoral.

This Spanish hybrid of romantic and bucolic elements then becomes the bridge between the Italian and the French pastoral novel by which the further development of the genre is dominated. The beginnings of French pastoral poetry go back to the Middle Ages and first appear in the thirteenth century in a complicated, heterogeneous form, dependent on the courtlychivalric lyric. As in the idylls and eclogues of classical antiquity, the bucolic situation in the French pastourelles is also a wishfulfilment dream of redemption from the all too rigid and con18 ventional forms of eroticism.

His desire is thoroughly unproblematical and, in spite of all its impulsiveness, it makes an impression of innocence compared with the forced purity of high courtly love. Apart from the two principal figures, and maybe the jealous shepherd, the only stage properties are a few sheep; there is nothing left of the atmosphere of the meadows and woods, of the mood of harvest and vintage, of the smell of milk and honey.

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And this influence does not go deep until the universal vogue of the Italian and Spanish pastoral novels and the victory of mannerism. The work is rightly regarded as the school in which the coarse feudal lords and soldiers of the age of Henri IV were trained to become members of a cultured French society. It owes its existence to the same movement that produced the first salons and from which the precious culture of the seventeenth century arose. No one any longer dreams of thinking of simple folk as he watches the fine ladies and gentlemen who, disguised as shepherds and shepherdesses, carry on spirited conversations and discuss ticklish questions of love.

The fiction has lost all relation to reality and has become a pure social game. Before the eighteenth century, scenes from pastoral life do not occur at all as the real theme of the representation in painting itself. It is true that bucolic motifs are no rarity as accessories in biblical and mythological pictures, but they have an origin of their own, absolutely different from the pastoral idea. Even in Poussin the relationship with Watteau is only apparent.

In seventeenthcentury French art pastoral subjects appear independently only on tapestries which have always displayed a fondness for portraying scenes of country life. Such motifs are, of course, not in harmony with the official character of the great art of the baroque period.

They are still admissible in pictorial representations of a decorative nature, as in a novel or an opera or a ballet, but they would seem just as out of place in a big ceremonial picture as in a tragedy. As a literary genre, it represented an extremely artificial form from the very beginning, and remained the exclusive possession of generations whose relationship to reality was thoroughly reflective.

The bucolic situation itself was always merely a pretext, never the real purpose of the repre20 sentation, which had, in consequence, always a more or less allegorical, never a symbolical character.

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In other words, the pastoral had an all too clear purpose and allowed of only one valid interpretation. It was immediately exhausted, it kept no secrets back, and resulted, even in a poet like Theocritus, in a rather undifferentiated though extraordinarily attractive picture of reality. It could never overcome the limitations of allegory and it remained sportive, lacking in tension and pregnancy. The eighteenth century was bound, by its very nature, to lead to a renaissance of the pastoral. For literature the formula had become too narrow, but in painting it still had enough life in it for a new beginning to be made.

The upper classes were living in extremely artificial social conditions in which everyday relationships were very largely metamorphosed and sublimated; but they no longer believed in the deeper purpose of these forms, and merely regarded them as the rules of the game. Gallantry was one of the rules of the game of love, just as the pastoral had always been a sportive form of erotic art.

Both desired to keep love at a distance, to divest it of its directness and passionateness. Nothing was, therefore, more natural than that the pastoral should reach the zenith of its development in the century of gallantry. Lancret, Pater and Boucher enjoyed the fruits of the innovation which they themselves merely trivialized. All his life, Watteau himself remained the painter of a comparatively small circle: the collectors Julienne and Crozat, the archaeologist and art patron Count Caylus, the art dealer Gersaint, were the only faithful supporters of his art.

He was mentioned but seldom in contemporary art criticism and then usually reprovingly. But it was in way any more dogmatic than the educated public in general, which still conformed, in theory at least, to the classical doctrine. In all practical questions the attitude of the Academy was extremely liberal. The number of its members was unrestricted and admission was by no means dependent on acceptance of its doctrine.

It was not perhaps so indulgent of its own accord, but, at any rate, it recognized that it was only by adopting such a liberal attitude that it could keep itself alive in this period of ferment and renewal. But painting still kept to erotic subjects for a long time after literature, above all the novel, as the more mobile and, for economic reasons, more popular type of art, had already turned its attention to subjects of more general importance.

Whilst, therefore, in painting the connection with the upper classes continues unimpaired for the time being, the novel approaches the world-view of the middle classes. The transition from the novel of chivalry to the pastoral novel marked the first step in this direction, in which the foregoing of certain medievalromanesque 22 elements was already expressed.

The pastoral novel discusses, though in a thoroughly fictitious framework, problems of real life, and describes, though in a fantastic disguise, real contemporary people; from the historical point of view, these are important features, pointing to future developments. Only from now onwards does the love theme become and remain for over three centuries the driving force in the novel as well as in the drama.

The French pastoral novel of the seventeenth century is the literature of a tired age; the society which has been exhausted in the civil wars rests from its exertions as it reads the beautiful and affected conversations of the amorous shepherds. The novel again deals with important events, describes foreign lands and strange peoples, represents significant and impressive schemes and characters.

Its heroism is, however, no longer the romantic recklessness of the novels of chivalry but rather the stern sense of duty of the tragedies of Corneille. Here, too, the question was one of the conflict between honour and passion, and here, too, duty was triumphant over love. In this age of heroic stimuli, we are everywhere confronted by the same clear analysis of volitional motifs, the same rationalistic dissection of the passions, the same stern dialectic of moral ideas.

Perhaps there is to be found a more intimate trait, a more personal nuance, a more fleeting aspect of the development of the feelings in Mme de la Fayette occasionally, but even in her work everything seems to be moved into the sharp light of consciousness and analytical reason. But in addition to all these bucolic-idyllic and heroic-amorous forms, there are certain phenomena even in the seventeenth century which herald the later middle-class novel. Precious novels are still read for a long time in the seventeenth century, they are actually read far into the eighteenth century, but they are no longer written after The novel, which, despite its popularity, represents an inferior and in some respects still backward form in the seventeenth century, becomes the leading literary genre in the eighteenth, to which belong not only the most important literary works, but 24 in which the most important and really progressive literary development takes place.

The eighteenth century is the age of the novel, if only because it is an age of psychology. He takes every manifestation of life as an occasion for psychological considerations, and he never misses an opportunity of exposing the motives of his characters. If there is any border-line at all separating the modern from the older novel, then it runs here.

Like the moralists and dramatists of the classical period, they still split up the characters into their components and develop them from a few abstract principles, instead of the total context of life in which they stand. It is not until the nineteenth century that the decisive step towards this indirect, impressionistic psychology is taken and, thereby, a new conception of psychological probability created, which makes the whole of previous literature seem out of date. What strikes us as modern in the writers of the eighteenth century is the deheroizing and humanizing of their heroes.

They reduce their size and bring them closer to us; therein lies the 25 essential progress of psychological naturalism since the description of love in the work of Racine. Love is once again a disaster, a disease, a disgrace as it was described by the Roman poets. The degradation of love here serves merely as a social defencemechanism. The stability of medieval feudal society and even that of the courtly society of the seventeenth century was not threatened by the dangers of love; they needed no such defence against the excesses of prodigal sons.

The hero of the novel no longer spares himself in the least with the description of his inglorious love and even shows a masochistic delight in making confession of the weakness of his character. The author of the Vie de Marianne is already conversant with the little weaknesses of even great souls, and not only draws his M. She is an honest and sincere girl, but she is never so 26 careless as to do or say anything that might injure her.

She knows her trump-cards and plays them cleverly. Marivaux is the typical representative of an age of transition and reconstruction. As a novelist, he gives his full support to the progressive, middleclass trend, but as a writer of comedy, he clothes his psychological observations in the old forms of intrigue.

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But the new characteristic in Marivaux the writer of comedy is, above all, his attempt to describe his figures as socially conditioned beings acting on impulses derived directly from their social position. But they also confront us with the same problem of art sociology, for they both express themselves, in full harmony with the conventions of good society, in extremely cultivated forms, and yet neither of them is so successful as one would expect in the circumstances. Throughout his life, Watteau was really appreciated by only a few, and it is well known that Marivaux repeatedly failed with his plays.

Artists of this kind never find an adequate public. Their contemporaries do not understand them, the next generation enjoys their artistic ideas usually in the diluted form of the epigones, and posterity, which is sometimes in a more favourable position to appreciate their works, can hardly any longer bridge the historical gap which separates them from the present. Both Watteau and Marivaux were not discovered until the nineteenth century, by connoisseurs whose taste was schooled by impressionism and at a time when their art had been long since out of date thematically. The rococo is not a royal art, as was the baroque, but the art of an aristocracy and an upper middle class.

It is a highly-skilled decorative art, piquant, delicate, nervous, by which the massive, statuesque, realistically spacious baroque is replaced; but it is sufficient to think of artists like La Tour or Fragonard, to remember that the facility and the verve of this art is, at the same time, a triumph of naturalistic observation and representation. Compared with the wild, excited visions of the baroque, with their tumultuous 28 overflowing of the boundaries of ordinary life, everything produced by the rococo seems feeble, petty and trifling, but no master of the baroque can wield a brush with greater ease and assurance than Tiepolo, Piazzetta or Guardi.

The rococo really represents the last phase of the development which starts with the Renaissance, in that it leads to victory the dynamic, resolving and liberating principle, with which this development began and which had to assert itself again and again against the principle of the static, the conventional and the typical.

It is not until the rococo that the artistic aims of the Renaissance finally succeed in establishing themselves; now the objective representation of things attains that exactness and effortlessness which it was the aim of modern naturalism to achieve. The middle-class art, which begins after and partly even in the midst of the rococo, is already something fundamentally new, something absolutely different from the Renaissance and subsequent periods in the history of art.

The antinomies of the Renaissance and of the artistic styles dependent on it, the polarity of formal rigorism and naturalistic formlessness, of tectonics and pictorial dissolution, of statics and dynamics, are now replaced by the antagonism between rationalism and sentimentalism, materialism, and spiritualism, classicism and romanticism. The real question now is whether precedence is to be given to the intellect or the feeling, to the world of objects or the subject, to rationalistic insight or intuition. The rococo itself prepares the way for the new alternative, by undermining the classicism of late baroque and by creating with its pictorial style, its sensitiveness to picturesque detail and impressionistic technique an instrument which is much better suited to express the emotional contents of middle class art than the formal idiom of the Renaissance and the baroque.

The very expressiveness of this instrument leads to the dissolution of the rococo, which is bent, however, by its own way of thinking on offering the strongest resistance to irrationalism and sentimentalism. Without this dialectic between more or less automatically developing means and original intentions it is impossible to understand the significance of the rococo; not until one comes to see it as the result of a polarity which corresponds to the antagonism of the society of the same period, and which makes it the connecting link between the courtly baroque and middle-class pre-romanticism, can one do justice to its complex nature.

The epicureanism of the rococo stands, with its sensualism and aestheticism, between the ceremonial style of the baroque and the emotionalism of the pre-romantic movement. Under Louis XIV the court nobility still extolled an ideal of heroic and rational perfection, even though in reality it mostly lived for its own pleasure. Under Louis XV the same nobility professes a hedonism which is also in harmony with the outlook and the way of life of the rich bourgeoisie. There is a universal and constant desire to see pictures of the nude; it now becomes the favourite subject of the plastic arts.

But the ideal of female beauty itself has also changed, it has become more piquant, more sophisticated. In the age of the 30 baroque, mature and well-developed women were preferred, now slender young girls, often still almost children, are painted. But the rococo is also the last universal style of Western Europe; a style which is not only universally recognized and moves within a generally speaking uniform system over the whole of Europe, but is also universal in the sense that it is the common property of all gifted artists, and can be accepted by them without reserve.

After the rococo there is no such canon of form, no such universally valid trend of art. From the nineteenth century onwards the intentions of each single artist become so personal that he has to struggle for his own means of expression and can no longer accept readymade solutions; he regards every pre-established form as a fetter rather than a help. In the 31 second half of the eighteenth century a revolutionary change took place; the emergence of the modern middle class, with its individualism and its passion for originality, put an end to the idea of style as something consciously and deliberately held in common by a cultural community, and gave the idea of intellectual property its current significance.

Boucher is the most important name in connection with the rise of the rococo formula and the masterly technique which gives the art of a Fragonard and Guardi that quality of unfailing certainty in the execution. He is the individually insignificant representative of an extraordinarily significant artistic convention, and he represents this convention in such a perfect way that he attains an influence unlike that of any artist since Le Brun. Naturally, it is not the whole of the art-minded public in France that sees Boucher as its leading painter; there is a cultured middle section of the bourgeoisie, which has already been having its say in literature for a long time past, and which now goes its own ways in art.

Greuze and Chardin paint their didactic and realistic pictures for this public. To be sure, their supporters do not all belong to the middle classes but also to those who provide the public of Boucher and Fragonard. The break with the rococo takes place in the second half of the century; the cleft between the art of the upper classes and that of the middle classes is obvious. His sentimental family scenes, with the cursing or blessing father, the prodigal or the good and grateful sons, are of little artistic value.

They lack originality in the composition, they are unremarkably drawn, their colours are unattractive and, furthermore, the technique has an unpleasant smoothness. The impression they make is cold and empty, despite their exaggerated solemnity, and mendacious, despite the emotions they display. The interests they attempt to satisfy are almost entirely non-artistic, and they present their unpainterly, in most cases purely narrative, subjectmatter quite crudely, with no attempt to transfer it into genuine pictorial forms.

Diderot praises them for portraying events which contain the germs of whole novels;36 but one might perhaps assert with more justification that they contain nothing that a story could not contain.

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The pictures of Chardin are, at any rate, among the best artistic products of the eighteenth century, in spite of their bourgeois plainness. And they are a much more genuine and honest middle-class art than that of Greuze, who, with his stereotyping of simple, chaste folk, his apotheosis of the middle-class family, his idealization of the artless maiden, expresses more the ideas and conceptions of the upper than those of the middle and lower classes.

In spite of that, the historical importance of Greuze is no less than that of Chardin; in the struggle against the aristocratic and upper middle-class rococo, his weapons proved even more effective. Diderot may have overestimated him as an artist, but his recognition of the political propagandistic value of his painting was well grounded. His crusade against the art of the rococo was merely a stage in the history of the revolution which was already under way.

The great romantic movement starts here about the middle of the century, but the enlightenment also receives its decisive impulse from this country. The French writers of the period see in English institutions the quintessence of progress and build up a legend around English liberalism—a legend which only partly corresponds to reality.

The displacement of France as the upholder of culture by England proceeds hand in hand with the decadence of the French royal house as the leading European power and, hence, the eighteenth century sees the ascent of England both in politics and in the arts and sciences. Parliament, which is now the expression of the liberal political aspirations of these classes and their strongest weapon against absolutism, supported the Tudors in their fight against the feudal aristocracy, the foreign foe and the Roman Church, since the commercial and industrial middle classes, represented in Parliament, as well as the liberal nobility, with interests in the commercial activities of the bourgeoisie, recognized that this fight was promoting their own designs.

Until towards the end of the sixteenth century, there was a close community of interests between the monarchy 34 and these classes. English capitalism was still in a primitive, adventurous stage of its development and the merchants gladly supported the confidential advisers of the Crown in joint piratical enterprises. The Stuarts, encouraged by the example of continental absolutism and believing that they had an ally in the French king, carelessly threw away both the loyalty of the middle classes and the support of Parliament.

Until the feudal nobility enjoyed considerable privileges and the state not only provided for the continuance of the latifundia, but tried to assure the great landowners of a share in the profit of capitalistic enterprises by monopolies and other forms of protectionism. This very practice, however, was fraught with disastrous consequences for the whole system. Apelles is described as the greatest painter of Antiquity for perfect technique in drawing, brilliant color and modeling.

Roman art was influenced by Greece and can in part be taken as a descendant of ancient Greek painting and sculpture, but was also strongly influenced by the more local Etruscan art of Italy. Roman sculpture , is primarily portraiture derived from the upper classes of society as well as depictions of the gods.

However, Roman painting does have important unique characteristics. Among surviving Roman paintings are wall paintings, many from villas in Campania , in Southern Italy, especially at Pompeii and Herculaneum. Such painting can be grouped into four main "styles" or periods [17] and may contain the first examples of trompe-l'oeil , pseudo-perspective, and pure landscape.

Almost all of the surviving painted portraits from the Ancient world are a large number of coffin-portraits of bust form found in the Late Antique cemetery of Al-Fayum. They give an idea of the quality that the finest ancient work must have had. A very small number of miniatures from Late Antique illustrated books also survive, and a rather larger number of copies of them from the Early Medieval period.

Art and visual culture: Medieval to modern

Early Christian art grew out of Roman popular, and later Imperial, art and adapted its iconography from these sources. The western side of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. Most surviving art from the Medieval period was religious in focus, often funded by the Church , powerful ecclesiastical individuals such as bishops , communal groups such as abbeys , or wealthy secular patrons.

Many had specific liturgical functions—processional crosses and altarpieces , for example. One of the central questions about Medieval art concerns its lack of realism. A great deal of knowledge of perspective in art and understanding of the human figure was lost with the fall of Rome. But realism was not the primary concern of Medieval artists. They were simply trying to send a religious message, a task which demands clear iconic images instead of precisely rendered ones. Byzantine art overlaps with or merges with what we call Early Christian art until the iconoclasm period of when the vast majority of artwork with figures was destroyed; so little remains that today any discovery sheds new understanding.

After until there is a clear Byzantine art tradition. It is often the finest art of the Middle Ages in terms of quality of material and workmanship, with production centered on Constantinople. Byzantine art's crowning achievement were the monumental frescos and mosaics inside domed churches, most of which have not survived due to natural disasters and the appropriation of churches to mosques. Migration period art is a general term for the art of the "barbarian" peoples who moved into formerly Roman territories. Celtic art in the 7th and 8th centuries saw a fusion with Germanic traditions through contact with the Anglo-Saxons creating what is called the Hiberno-Saxon style or Insular art , which was to be highly influential on the rest of the Middle Ages.

Merovingian art describes the art of the Franks before about , when Carolingian art combined insular influences with a self-conscious classical revival, developing into Ottonian art. Anglo-Saxon art is the art of England after the Insular period. Illuminated manuscripts contain nearly all the surviving painting of the period, but architecture, metalwork and small carved work in wood or ivory were also important media. Romanesque art refers to the period from about to the rise of Gothic art in the 12th century.

This was a period of increasing prosperity, and the first to see a coherent style used across Europe, from Scandinavia to Switzerland. Romanesque art is vigorous and direct, was originally brightly coloured, and is often very sophisticated. Stained glass and enamel on metalwork became important media, and larger sculptures in the round developed, although high relief was the principal technique.

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Editorial Reviews. Review. "This is an exciting, an irritating, a scholarly and an absolutely Social History of Art, Volume 3: Rococo, Classicism and Romanticism - Kindle edition by Arnold Hauser, Jonathan Harris. Download it once and read it. Social History of Art, Volume 3: Rococo, Classicism and Romanticism (): Arnold Hauser: Books.

Its architecture is dominated by thick walls, and round-headed windows and arches, with much carved decoration. Gothic art is a variable term depending on the craft, place and time. The term originated with Gothic architecture in , but Gothic painting did not appear until around this date has many qualifications , when it diverged from Romanesque style.

Rococo Art

Gothic sculpture was born in France in with the renovation of the Abbey Church of S. Denis and spread throughout Europe, by the 13th century it had become the international style, replacing Romanesque. International Gothic describes Gothic art from about to , after which Gothic art merges into Renaissance art at different times in different places. During this period forms such as painting, in fresco and on panel, become newly important, and the end of the period includes new media such as prints. The Renaissance is characterized by a focus on the arts of Ancient Greece and Rome , which led to many changes in both the technical aspects of painting and sculpture, as well as to their subject matter.

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In the 18th century, landscapes gained greater prominence in religious pictures. Some famous Greek painters on wooden panels who are mentioned in texts are Apelles , Zeuxis and Parrhasius , however no examples of Ancient Greek panel painting survive, only written descriptions by their contemporaries or by later Romans. In —13 he designed dozens of village public buildings in the Ukrainian 'folk style' of architecture The authorities of Cracow finally decided to erect the mound, in accordance with the preferences of President Wodzicki Fig. Duchamp--and participated in the group's exhibitions Ukrainian genre painting usually depicts village life. His works were displayed at one-man shows: in Munich , , , Paris S.

It began in Italy , a country rich in Roman heritage as well as material prosperity to fund artists. During the Renaissance, painters began to enhance the realism of their work by using new techniques in perspective , thus representing three dimensions more authentically. Artists also began to use new techniques in the manipulation of light and darkness, such as the tone contrast evident in many of Titian 's portraits and the development of sfumato and chiaroscuro by Leonardo da Vinci. Sculptors , too, began to rediscover many ancient techniques such as contrapposto.

Following with the humanist spirit of the age, art became more secular in subject matter, depicting ancient mythology in addition to Christian themes. This genre of art is often referred to as Renaissance Classicism. In the North, the most important Renaissance innovation was the widespread use of oil paints , which allowed for greater colour and intensity. During the late 13th century and early 14th century, much of the painting in Italy was Byzantine in Character, notably that of Duccio of Siena and Cimabue of Florence, while Pietro Cavallini in Rome was more Gothic in style.

In Giotto began painting in a manner that was less traditional and more based upon observation of nature. His famous cycle at the Scrovegni Chapel , Padua , is seen as the beginnings of a Renaissance style. Other painters of the 14th century were carried the Gothic style to great elaboration and detail. Notable among these painters are Simone Martini and Gentile da Fabriano. In the Netherlands , the technique of painting in oils rather than tempera , led itself to a form of elaboration that was not dependent upon the application of gold leaf and embossing, but upon the minute depiction of the natural world.

The art of painting textures with great realism evolved at this time. The ideas of the Renaissance first emerged in the city-state of Florence , Italy. The sculptor Donatello returned to classical techniques such as contrapposto and classical subjects like the unsupported nude—his second sculpture of David was the first free-standing bronze nude created in Europe since the Roman Empire. The sculptor and architect Brunelleschi studied the architectural ideas of ancient Roman buildings for inspiration.

Masaccio perfected elements like composition, individual expression, and human form to paint frescoes, especially those in the Brancacci Chapel , of surprising elegance, drama, and emotion. A remarkable number of these major artists worked on different portions of the Florence Cathedral. Brunelleschi's dome for the cathedral was one of the first truly revolutionary architectural innovations since the Gothic flying buttress. Donatello created many of its sculptures. Giotto and Lorenzo Ghiberti also contributed to the cathedral. The 15th-century artistic developments in Italy for example, the interest in perspectival systems, in depicting anatomy, and in classical cultures matured during the 16th century, accounting for the designations "Early Renaissance" for the 15th century and "High Renaissance" for the 16th century.

Although no singular style characterizes the High Renaissance, the art of those most closely associated with this Period—Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian—exhibits an astounding mastery, both technical and aesthetic. High Renaissance artists created works of such authority that generations of later artists relied on these artworks for instruction. These exemplary artistic creations further elevated the prestige of artists. Artists could claim divine inspiration, thereby raising visual art to a status formerly given only to poetry.

Thus, painters, sculptors, and architects came into their own, successfully claiming for their work a high position among the fine arts. In a sense, 16th- century masters created a new profession with its own rights of expression and its own venerable character. Hieronymus Bosch ? In his paintings, he used religious themes, but combined them with grotesque fantasies, colourful imagery, and peasant folk legends.

His paintings often reflect the confusion and anguish associated with the end of the Middle Ages. Mannerism, a reaction against the idealist perfection of Classicism, employed distortion of light and spatial frameworks in order to emphasize the emotional content of a painting and the emotions of the painter. The work of El Greco is a particularly clear example of Mannerism in painting during the late 16th, early 17th centuries. Northern Mannerism took longer to develop, and was largely a movement of the last half of the 16th century.

Baroque art took the representationalism of the Renaissance to new heights, emphasizing detail, movement, lighting, and drama in their search for beauty. A rather different art developed out of northern realist traditions in 17th-century Dutch Golden Age painting , which had very little religious art, and little history painting , instead playing a crucial part in developing secular genres such as still life , genre paintings of everyday scenes, and landscape painting.

While the Baroque nature of Rembrandt's art is clear, the label is less use for Vermeer and many other Dutch artists. Flemish Baroque painting shared a part in this trend, while also continuing to produce the traditional categories. Baroque art is often seen as part of the Counter-Reformation —the artistic element of the revival of spiritual life in the Roman Catholic Church.

Additionally, the emphasis that Baroque art placed on grandeur is seen as Absolutist in nature. Religious and political themes were widely explored within the Baroque artistic context, and both paintings and sculptures were characterised by a strong element of drama, emotion and theatricality.

Famous Baroque artists include Caravaggio or Rubens. Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date. For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now. Javascript is not enabled in your browser. Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Textbooks.