The Impact Of Graphic Art On The

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The Impact Of Graphic Art On The French Revolution Essay, Research Paper The Impact of Graphic Art on the French Revolution Art has allways been an important part of history. Sometimes it is even able to change or influence history by acting upon public opinion. Many artists of all ages are known for their political involvement. Although it is argued that the most important reason for the outbreak of the French Revolution was the political and economical instability of France during this period, there is place for an agrument that art also had influence in starting the Revolution. One of the most famous artists of the French Revolution was Jaques-Louis David. In the early years of the Revolution, David was a member of the extremist Jacobin group led by Robespierre, and he

became an energetic example of the politically committed artist. He was elected to the National Convention in 1792, in time to vote for the execution of Louis XVI. By 1793, as a member of the art commission, he was virtually the art dictator of France and was nicknamed “the Robespierre of the brush.” Not all of the people in France at the time of the Revolution could read, and not even those who could read necessarily understood the writings of Voltaire or Rousseau. However, many more people could understand visual art. Although the French Revolution is usually treated as a revolution of the poor, it is also important to take into consideration that it was not started by the peasantry, but by the nobility and wealthy businessmen of the Third Estate. These were the people who

had the time and money to attend theater and patronize artists. These were the people that came to the galleries to view David’s works. His works were of a new style, never seen before. The art of the French Revolution represented a sharp break with the art of the early part of the eighteenth century, when rococo reigned. Rococo art glorified the aristocracy, maybe because it coincided with the peak of absolutist monarchy. The “common people” were nowhere to be seen in rococo paintings. However, influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, a few artists made an abrupt change. Old ideas of republicanism and democracy were being resurrected among these new artists, known as the neoclassicists. This era of art was to be known as the neoclassical era due to its heavy reliance

on classical Greek and republican Roman themes. Oath of the Horatii (1784), Death of Marat (1793), Junius Brutus (1789), and Death of Socrates (1787), all prominent historical pieces by David, were painted in the middle 1780’s. The neoclassical era was an important instigator of the French Revolution; not because it depicted ancient scenes, but because of the ideas contained in those paintings. The best known canvases painted by the master Jacques-Louis David portrayed graphically two principles vital to a republican revolution: condemnation of monarchical rule and a willingness to sacrifice oneself or others (whether they want to die or not) for a greater cause. The first Revolutionary principle found in David’s art was a condemnation of monarchical rule. This idea is best

expressed in Oath of the Horatii and Junius Brutus. Both of these paintings are derived from the legends surrounding the birth of the Roman Republic.The message shared by them is clear: the monarchy is evil, the republic that replaced it was good. These paintings were completed in the 1780’s, a few years before the Revolution. Almost all of David’s neoclassical art was done before the Revolution. These ideas had time to develop in people’s minds before the Revolution itself erupted in 1789. The greatest single piece of evidence that points to the importance of art in provoking the Revolution is the importance placed on David by revolutionary leaders. David was the artist selected to record the moment of the Tennis Court Oath, which was when the National Assembly was