With his extraordinary knowledge, clarity and style Kenneth Clark discusses thirteen important artists representing one of the greatest periods in the history of art - the second half of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century.During the second half of the eighteenth century, when the spirit of revolution was rising through Europe, a division appeareWith his extraordinary knowledge, clarity and style Kenneth Clark discusses thirteen important artists representing one of the greatest periods in the history of art - the second half of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century.During the second half of the eighteenth century, when the spirit of revolution was rising through Europe, a division appeared in all the arts, deeper and more radical than any that had preceded it. Rivalry arose between two schools of painting, the Romantic and the Classic. The doctrine of Classic art aspired to the ideal found in Greco-Roman antiquities; subjects were drawn from episodes in antique history or poetry that pointed a moral - acts of self-sacrifice or patriotism. Romantic art appealed to the emotions, in particular the fear and exhilaration aroused by storm, bloodshed and ferocity, so prevalent at the time. The emotional effect of a picture was heightened by color, violent light and shade and exaggerated movement, made shockingly natural - far removed from the tranquility and sculptural forms of classicism. In practice, however, the two schools overlapped. Both attached importance to subject matter and looked to the past for it. "Every great classical artist was a romantic at heart and vice versa; the distinction between them is more convenient than real," writes Kenneth Clark.To trace this "rebellion" Kenneth Clark brings into focus the artistic creativity of thirteen artists: David, Goya, Piranesi, Fuseli, Blake, Ingres, Gericault, Delacroix, Turner, Constable, Millet, Degas and Rodin - all but one successful and influential, all part of the European movement....
|Title||:||The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic Versus Classic Art|
|Number of Pages||:||366 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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The Romantic Rebellion: Romantic Versus Classic Art Reviews
Clark's essays on thirteen artists who forged a separate path from their classic forefathers were adapted from television scripts, which in turn had been adapted from lectures given at Oxford University or the Phillips Gallery in Washington. As such, they are the pan drippings of a great educator and an exemplary mind, more flitting than thorough, unthreateningly erudite. Clark, like his counterpart in the arena of classical music, Leonard Bernstein, had the gift of delivering the profundities of culture to a mass audience with ease and familiarity.He dispenses value judgments plenteously: Fuseli's "The Nightmare" is "a ridiculous work". Edmund Burke's Inquiry into the Origins of the Sublime is "original, intelligent and extremely boring". "...Rodin could be very good or very bad; and if he is to take his proper place as one of the greatest artists of the nineteenth century, and perhaps the greatest sculptor since Michelangelo, one must make an effort to discriminate between the genuine and the counterfeit in his work." Rodin's drawings "are the most untrammelled and revolutionary of all his works. But in the end, how monotonous they become! There are said to be over four thousand in the Musee Rodin alone, and I must confess that even after a hundred or so this endless belt of sprawling women has a depressing rather than an exhilarating effect on me, and seems to reveal a kind of promiscuity which is foreign to the concentrated passions of the greatest artists." But his Balzac "is a work of genius and to my mind the finest thing Rodin ever did." "After all his adventures in other styles he has achieved something which is entirely his own and yet seems to spring from the heart of a universal tradition of sculpture. At the same time it is the most modern of Rodin's works, in the sense that the imitation of appearances is entirely subordinate to a sculptural idea. In the gardens of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which contains the masterpieces of the 20th century sculpture, by far the oldest work is Rodin's Balzac. There they all are - Matisse, Laurens, Gargallo, Zadkine, Henry Moore, Giacometti - and the Balzac seems to meet them on their own terms and to dominate them."You are always going to learn some fascinating historical titbit: "Since Van Dyck we have grown accustomed to the idea that portrait painters must be flatterers, but in the seventeenth and eighteen centuries great people were so sure of their status that they did not really mind what they were made to look like as individuals. In their portraits the later Medici look like criminal lunatics: they did not care - they were the Medici." "...fashionable people used to visit [madhouses] for amusement, just as people today go to horror films." "...the sensuous disorder of real flowers, which delighted Courbet, Manet and, of course, Renoir, disturbed [Degas]. Later in life when he went out to dinner he used to ask for them to be removed from the table. At most he would admit an aspidistra."Clark confesses that in certain moods he finds Ingres' "Bain Turc a slightly comic picture. No wonder that it was made into a greetings card, with the caption 'The whole gang misses you.'"Ingres, The Turkish Bath, 1862-63, The Louvre.By Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - C2RMF: Galerie de tableaux en très haute définition: image page, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index...How interesting that Delacroix and Ingres were such polar opposites in terms of intelligence. Clark notes that Delacroix's father had been deemed medically incapable of having children the year before his birth, and Delacroix was almost certainly the son of the brilliant statesman Talleyrand (wikipedia throws doubt on this, but there is an uncanny resemblance). "Delacroix was one of the most completely intelligent men of his century, but the very range and responsiveness of his mind made it almost impossible for him to be a painter. He could not abandon himself to his perceptions..." Ingres had left school at the age of eleven, was not terribly bright, "and partly owing to his impulsive, emotional character, he was incapable of reason." This was a surprise to me, as Ingres' style has such a cool, pristine virtuosity that you almost imagine his paintings emanate directly from his brain:Ingres, Monsieur Granet, 1807, Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence.Ingres, Portrait of Louis-François Bertin, 1832, The Louvre.By Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres - http://visipix.com/index.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index...In a discussion of J.M.W. Turner, Clark discusses color and the notion of the painter as a colorist. "Fine colour does not mean bright colour or brilliant colour: more often than not it means the reverse. ...Fine colour implies a unified relationship, in which each part is subordinate to the whole, and the transitions between them are felt to be as precious and beautiful as the colors themselves." He cites Rembrandt and Watteau as among the greatest colorists; in many of their works "there are very few identifiable colours. Watteau's Enseigne de Gersaint is almost a monochrome, in which colours are gradated and subdued in such a way as to achieve magical transitions." Watteau is not a subject of the book, but "Turner often referred to his debt to Watteau".Antoine Watteau, L'Enseigne de Gersaint, 1720-21, Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin.By Antoine Watteau - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index...Throughout the essays Clark has been noting the irresolution that exists between the ideas of romantic and classic art. Like so many distinctions, it is to some degree a fiction in that there is a substantial amount of overlap between the two schools "and never more so than in the work of Jean-François Millet." The subjects of many of his works are romantic, but his "treatment of the human figure" is classical.Jean-François Millet, Nude, 1850, The Louvre.In passages like this you really get your money's worth. Clark writes of Millet (and later, similarly, on Degas) that he "was one of those artists on whom a few formal ideas make so deep an impression that they feel compelled to spend the whole of their lives in trying to lever them out. Perhaps this is the chief distinguishing mark of the classical artist; certainly it is what distinguishes his use of subject matter from that of the illustrator. The illustrator is essentially a reporter, his subjects come to him from outside, lit by a flash. A subject comes to the classic artist from inside, and when he discovers confirmation of it in the outside world he feels that it has been there all the time. He must give to his subjects an air of unchangeable inevitability, and this becomes a problem of formal completeness. That is why the classic artists, Degas no less than Poussin, return to the same motives again and again, hoping each time to mould the subject closer to the idea." For Millet one of these motives was gleaners in a field. For Degas, it was horse racing and the ballet.
This is, simply, a wonderful book. I am not sure how someone really informed about 19th century art would rate this, but for me it was a perfect fit. I found the earlier sections the best - especially on David, Pirenesi, Ingres, Goya, Turner, Gericault, Delacroix.I also cannot say that I now know what Romantic means - in fact, Clark's thesis is that in every 'romantic', there resides a classicst - and vice versa.But none of that matters for the ranking of this excellent book.
This is a beautiful book with beautiful writing. Clark is one of the leading art historians and it is clear that he knows what he is talking about in this book. I picked up The Romantic Rebellion to just casually peruse and fell in love with art history. Definitely worth reading!!!
Lord Clark knocks us dead with his keen and penetrating mind as he describes the emergence of a more Emotional Art quite apart from the colder, more (historically) remote aims of the Classicists.
Great overview of Romantic artists with paintings- great for romantic history or art history
A coworker slipped this sucker to me one day and it's just a lovely book. *Plus* I learned about some romantic artists I'd never heard of before and then *the very next day* went to an art museum and saw some of their sketches. It was a perfect coincidence.