If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:6:24

Video transcript

[Music] we're standing in one of the largest galleries in the Louvre in Paris it's filled with enormous paintings we're looking at Jacques lui defeats both of the Horatio this is a painting that was made in 1784 and exhibited in 1785 and this painting stole the show it was absolutely no nobody had ever seen anything like it the prevailing style in France was the rokoko we could think about artists like Boucher or Fragonard a style that appealed to the aristocracy and even in the kind of history painting that was made for the King the style had become formulaic it had become tired but dahveed's oath of the Horatio establishes a new style that we call neoclassicism critics like Diderot are calling for an art that depicts virtuous behavior very different from the prevailing rokoko style and this painting answers that call this is the tail end of the period in France that we call the Enlightenment with philosophers like Rousseau Diderot and Voltaire who posit the idea that the rational should supersede tradition and the spiritual the church was incredibly powerful the monarchy in France was incredibly powerful and the philosophers of the Enlightenment are asking questions about the validity of these very established institutions and remember it will only be a few years before the French Revolution begins this is exhibited in 1785 the revolution is 1780 and the American Revolution has already taken place based in large part on the ideas of French enlightenment philosophers we have a story from early ancient Roman history the early Roman state is at war with a neighboring city of Alba but instead of the armies of each side going to war they decide to send three brothers from each side to battle it out whoever survives is the side that's victorious the Romans choose the Horatio and the City of Alba twos is the core a CI but things get very complicated because there are inter marriages between these two families so no matter who wins both sides will lose exactly what we see is the father of the [ __ ] a CI holding swords aloft as the sons take an oath to battle to the death for Rome on the right we see three women and two children there's some disagreement as to who the woman in blue is in the back we see two young women in the foreground one of them is a kurasia a sister and she's married to one of the her a CI brothers the other is a [ __ ] a CI by birth but will marry one of the core hei families will be torn apart by this battle no matter what happens by making the women appear so curvilinear so passive they don't even have their eyes open dahveed is suggesting an idea that was very prevalent in the philosophy of Rousseau for example that women could not be true citizens of the state they were unable to think about civic responsibilities women could only think about the personal and the familial and look at how dahveed has depicted contrast if the women are curvilinear if their bodies are limp the male figures are rigid they are upright they are tall they are strong they are angular in the forms of their bodies they raise their arms together there's a sense of purpose that is completely absent from the women who appeared to be just victims of circumstance here the young men are working in unison their arms salute in unison there is clearly a reverence for the idea of strength in a kind of Brotherhood in a kind of collective dahveed represents all of this in a classical classicizing style looking back to ancient Greece and Rome there is an interest in the anatomy of the body of carefully depicting the musculature the movement of the body that is directly from ancient Greek and Roman art in fact the lighting which rakes across the surface reminds me of an ancient Greek or Roman relief carving and all of this is set within a simplified stone interior with rounded Roman arches simplified Tuscan columns and a pavement that creates a geometric stage for these figures and if we follow the orthogonal lines created by that pavement we ended a vanishing point right where the father's hand clasps the swords if we think about the lushness the luxuriousness of Rococo painting to me this painting is the exact opposite it's one that speaks of the virtue of simplest over the indulgence of the Rococo style exactly what the Enlightenment philosophers were calling for artists to do an audience's recognize that stark contrast in fact the salon had to stay open longer than it had originally been scheduled just to accommodate the numbers of people that wanted to see it one of the most fascinating things about this painting is that during the revolution the brothers and their willingness to die for their country resonates with the revolutionaries who must make sacrifices of themselves and their families for the ideals of the revolution and Dovie does become a revolutionary himself and so it's very tempting to read back into this painting but we have to remember that the painting was completed several years before the Revolution although it was certainly informed by the same philosophical values that the Revolution was founded on dahveed not only becomes a revolutionary he votes for the beheading of the king we're talking about an artist who was very politically engaged and this painting becomes an icon for the revolution when I look at this painting I sense that patriotic fervor that must have been so palpable in the early years of the Revolution when people were able to rise up against the abuses of a monarchy and to begin to imagine a republic for France [Music] you
AP® is a registered trademark of the College Board, which has not reviewed this resource.