Jacques-Louis David, Oath of the Horatii, 1784
Things to think about when studying:
- What movement does this painting fit into?
- What elements of the work does the artist draw your attention to? (both narrative and stylistic)
Rochefort’s Escape (L’Evasion de Rochefort), c. 1881, oil on canvas, 80 x 73 cm, Musée d’Orsay.
Virulently opposed to the imperial regime, Victor Henri Rochefort founded a political newspaper, La Lanterne, in 1868. The newspaper, which was published in Brussels, was soon banned. In 1873 the journalist was sentenced to prison for his role during the Commune. His spectacular, swashbuckling escape by sea, in 1874, inspired Manet to paint this composition, six years after the event.
This and many other Manet’s masterpieces can be seen in the monumental rooms of the Doge’s Palace, Venice, from April 24 to August 18, 2013. The exhibition Manet. Return to Venice includes about 80 paintings, drawings and prints. It has been planned with the special collaboration of the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, which possesses the largest number of Manet’s masterpieces.
Paul Cadmus, Bar Italia, 1953-55
From the Smithsonian American Art Museum:
“Bar Italia was a sort of synthesis of all I knew about Italy … I assembled a rather large cast of characters, exposing the worst of everything I could think of.” The artist, quoted in Kirstein, Paul Cadmus, 1992
Paul Cadmus lived and worked in Italy in the early 1950s. Bar Italia satirizes the crowds of tourists in Europe during the postwar years, when Americans alone had the money to visit a continent devastated by the Second World War. A crowd of people fills an imaginary square cobbled together from different Italian cities. The sidewalk café offers a full range of characters, including argumentative Italians, pudgy clerics, hustlers, old widowed crones, and a group of what the artist called “rather outrageous” gay men. Cadmus also painted himself into the image, quietly taking in the boisterous scene from just beyond a young Italian perched on the wall. (Kirstein, Paul Cadmus, 1992) In the background a large marble monument parodies Italy’s decrepit architectural treasures, currently under repair at the hands of a stonemason at the top right. Cadmus’s moony, prying tourists, who scan the sky for masterpieces and search phrase books for “Where is the restroom,” say it all. But he included a final indignity: Just to the right of the painting’s center, graffiti on the wall spell out “Go Away Americans.”