Around 1600, Italian, Flemish and Dutch painters were still dominating the French art scene. As France rose to the status of European superpower under the absolutist kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV, interest focused on indigenous art and artists. In 1648 the Paris Académie Royale was founded to train painters. Only those who submitted to the strict rules were granted royal commissions or a place to study. At the beginning of the 18th century, French painting was liberated from the precepts of the Académie. Genre and landscape painting became very popular. Towards the mid-18th century, interest in strict academic training revived, bringing about the end of the romantically idealised view and the transition to Classicism.
Heroic Landscape with Figures by Dughet Gaspard (1615–1675)DomQuartier Salzburg | Residenzgalerie Salzburg
Set in a foreground of earthy shades, Dughet's figures resemble sculptures from the ancient world.
At second glance, we notice further figures in and near the water, standing, resting or washing. On the left bank, a fully-laden donkey approaches the water.
On the left, a shepherd leads his herd uphill. The landscape and the isolated buildings on the background hills are warmly illuminated by the low sun.
In Dughet's paintings, the principal motif is the landscape which, however, has no basis in reality, but is a fictive notion of the dreamland Arcadia.
Sea Piece with Sunset by Loutherbourg Jaques Philippe de (1740–1812)DomQuartier Salzburg | Residenzgalerie Salzburg
Many fishermen have assembled on this rugged coast. Some are busy drawing in their nets, while others have already lit a fire for the evening.
The crew of a Dutch frigate has cast anchor and is furling the sails. The shallops have been lowered into the water for the sailors to row to land...
... and to the coastal town, which is illuminated by the soft light of the setting sun.
Towering above the dark cliff is a brightly lit fortress. The sky, filled with a southern haze, is variegated in nuances of white, grey, blue and yellow.
Loutherbourg's portrayal of southern climes with this special light effect was a popular motif with people who longed for faraway places; it brought the artist commissions from all over Europe.
Dreaming Shepherdess by Boucher François (1703–1770)DomQuartier Salzburg | Residenzgalerie Salzburg
Eyes closed, the girl leans her head on her hand. Her blushing cheeks and calm expression indicate sweet, sensuous dreams.
On the right, by her bare feet stands a basket of flowers. Opposite, a small goat testifies to her occupation.
Surrounded by green bushes and an overgrown stone wall, the shepherdess seems protected from prying eyes. Only the viewer is witness to the intimate charms of her loosened bodice and plunging décolleté.
Boucher was a master of these sensuous motifs, which he showed to advantage with colour, materiality and subtle use of light.