The Wounds of Passion - Corey Wayne

Paintings of the French Revolution; 1787-1799

The Historical event of the French Revolution and how its dramatic legacy was depicted in French paintings. The Revolution was one of the most socially and politically trying times for the Country. These remarkable paintings were not all necessarily made during the Revolution period (1787-1799), but they each depict notable figures and events that the Revolution is known for.

This piece depicts the Jean-Paul Marat, found murdered in a bathtub while writing letters. Marat appears young and somehow still living, in clearly a deceased position. The light source coming from the left side of the frame illuminates his face and body. The fact that he is shown smiling, with his hands clasping a pen and paper appears to reference his actions as a political publicist. His death further convicted the French people to revolt.
As the title suggests, this wide portrait depicts the château of Meudon’s demolition. The portrait implies both the elements of destruction and reconstruction. Although the building is clearly being torn down, we can also see the people working together for some new plans. The trees also seem to blend into the shadow of the château. The château's deterioration ties in with the French peoples' economic stability, reminding them of their reason to revolt.
This is a portrait of King Louis XVI standing with a hat in one hand and a cane in the other. He is dressed in grand, gold and white robes that drape over his large physique. The room compliments him in a few ways. First, its deep blue palette contrasts with his white wardrobe. Secondly, the cloud-like curtains and religious decorations evoke a regal atmosphere.
This piece is a portrait of an unknown, elderly revolutionary sitting at a table. His clothes seem pristine and fresh, contrasting with his age and environment. His obvious age aside, he gives off the posture of a younger, proud man. The warm colors of his clothes stem mostly from the heart area, while the rest of the room is filled with brown, aging colors.
This piece depicts the battle of Abukir, which took place in Abu Qir, Egypt where Napoleon’s forces overtook the Ottoman army. His horse is shown glowing white, contrasting with the mixed colors of the Ottomans. This feature, along with the wave-like army, drives home the renaissance aesthetic of the epic battle, with Napoleon fully composed and the Ottomans in distressed defeat.
This piece presents Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine-Habsbourg holding a white rose in a garden. Her cool-colored dress and hair blend easily into the scene. However, she does not only compliment the environment, but she also commands it. What immediately alerts us to her is her bright, pinkish skin, which not only contrasts with the rest of the environment, but also aligns perfectly with the colors of the roses.
This portrait depicts Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine-Habsbourg sitting at home with her three children. The children appear playfully distracted while Marie- Antoinette is motionlessly apathetic. This portrayal may have been interpreted as a reference to her neglect of the French community in the events leading up to the Revolution. Both her bright red dress and the frame’s dead space draw our eye to Marie-Antoinette’s overpowering presence.
This image is a wide expansive shot of Napoleon and his forces recouping after the battle of Eylau. Napoleon’s golden horse and separated space in between his men draw the eye easily to him. This painting gives the impression that the battle was a victory, with Napoleon as the commanding leader. His sense of responsibility looms over the cluttered wounded and deceased in the foreground and background
This portrait presents Napoleon Bonaparte posing in an authoritative stance. As the title points out, he is in his study at the Tuileries, which has a warm, earthly palette to it. This heightens the royal tone that the portrait is bringing out. Napoleon’s cool colored uniform contrasts with the room, but nonetheless embolden him as the primary focus. This painting shows Napoleon in his prime during the French Revolution. He displays firm sophistication.
This is a portrait of Charles-Alexandre de Calonne, the former Controller General of Finance to Louis XVI. He sits in what appears to be a royal study, as he is at work with a note and other important documents. The portrait gives de Calonne a cold, sober style of elegance. His dark blue suit contrasts with the passionately red background. His posture and forward direction gives him a regal confidence.
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