Sunday, October 19, 2014

At a Cafe with David

I can imagine myself with Jacques-Louis David at a café in 1789. While I sit here with David, I can smell the delicious pain au raisin coming from the kitchen and I can hear people talking. I see David in front of me sipping on his cup of coffee and I am listening to the people that surround me, trying to translate what they are saying. They are talking about the government and that they want to rebel against the king. In my daydream, I am talking to David and asking him about his contributions on the movement of the French Revolution.

David was not only an influential painter, but a political activist during the French Revolution and through his paintings David reflected the neo-classicism movement. His paintings describes political events that happened in France like, “The Oath of Horatii” and “The Tennis Court Oath”.

Jacques-Louis David: Oath of the Horatii, Oil on canvas.Height: 330 cm Width: 425 cm. Paris, Louvre

This painting, by David, shows how three men reach out towards the sward’s from their father. This infers that they are willing to sacrifice for the good of their country. David’s political influence in this painting can be described as a message to the people to rebel against the king and the unjust government.
Jacques-Louis David:The Oath of the Tennis Court, Pen and Brown Ink. Height: 66 cm Width: 101 cm. Palace of Versailles
This painting shows how the third estate gather to demand for change in the government. The story behind this painting is that third estate members wanted to change the government and have their voices heard, so they got together and vowed to stay in the tennis court until a new constitution of France was made. This symbolized unity and self determination for a change in society which lead to the French revolution.

In the beginning, paintings were a way artist made a living along with sharing their talents. Artist would get hired by wealthy individuals, church leaders, or the king to create art. The art reflected on how the individual who hired the artist wanted it to look and where they wanted it to be located. However, Davis along with other artist were able to put in a little of their personality into the art they made by adding little details that are shown indirectly in their art. For instance, in David’s painting "The Oath of the Horatii", that I mentioned before was controversial because he worked for the king and the painting sent a message to the people to rebel against the king. The hand of the second man is around the waist of the third man and it symbolizes unity between the people of France. Some individuals did not notice the message of the painting, due to different perspectives, but at the end people got together and stood up for change.

This got my attention because art is unique and can result in different interpretations that influence people. Today, many people( including myself) are exposed to thousands of images each day, but some of the images we see do not have valuable characteristics like a historical story behind it, like the paintings of David and other influential artists. One thing that I would look forward to see in Paris would be the art museums because I want to see paintings and art that reflect on a historical events and have a meaningful messages.

If I could, in real life, be with David at a cafe I would interview him and ask him about his aspirations and how they came to be. However, I wonder how Napoleon would react to my conversation with David?  

Jacques-Louis David - The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries. Oil on canvas.Height: 2,039 mm Width: 1,251 mm. National Gallery of Art



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