"18th Century French School - Mythological Or Historical Scene"French school of the 18th century
Mythological or historical scene
Pen and brown ink, ink wash on paper
Dimensions of the work: 13.5 x 18 cm
Dimensions of the original frame: 24 x 28.5 cm
With the renewed interest aroused through the excavations carried out in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum in southern Italy during the first half of the 18th century, intellectuals from all over Europe studied the forgotten ancient forms. This craze, both scientific and archaeological, extends to ancient Greece and gives rise to the publication of numerous collections of engravings, notably by Piranese, Jacques-Germain Soufflot or even Julien-David Leroy.
In reaction to the rock style, these forms developed from the middle of the 18th century to result in a new fashion and manner, inspired by the rigor of the line and the construction. This style is more of an imaginary for decorative purposes than a faithful copy of old styles. Both by the subjects and by the composition, they convey values proper to the century such as ethics, good citizenship, patriotism and thus regenerate a political program and ideology, those of the republican model of Antiquity.
The taste for Greek then the taste for Etruscan follow one another to lead to the formation of neoclassicism with spearheading the painter Jacques-Louis David.
The work that we present here is a very beautiful illustration of this manner and of this time. If its author and its subject remain unknown, it is necessary to note a very beautiful construction of the space where dominates the straight line: the columns mark the verticality, the entablature the horizontality, the steps form obliques. The figures take place within this ruined architecture inspired by archaeological sites, they are dressed in drapes whose finesse of execution is quite remarkable, just like the delicacy of the shadows cast. The ideal of simplicity is seen through the general analysis of the composition and underlines the moral density of the scene that is playing out before our eyes.