Published: August 24, 2004
“Rococo to Romantic: European Art from the Permanent Collection” is on view at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, August 29-December 12.
A survey of movements from the mid-Eighteenth through the mid-Nineteenth Centuries, this installation assembles sculpture, decorative arts and drawings to complement the paintings, all from the Wadsworth Atheneum’s collection.
Early in the Eighteenth Century, European fine and decorative arts turned from dark styles and weighty subjects toward brightness, sprightliness and delicacy in the era known as the Rococo. Instead of religious themes, artists and patrons preferred genre and mythological scenes, portraiture, still lifes and scenic views. Featured in the Atheneum’s collection are the Italian masters Batoni, Tiepolo, Bellotto and Piazetta and the French painters Hubert Robert, Bouilly and Chardin.
In the wake of the French Revolution, the style and subject matter of art turned austere and neoclassical. The leading exponent of this new sobriety was Jacques-Louis David, whose workshop produced the Atheneum’s version of his famous “The Lictors Bringing to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons.” Following in David’s footsteps came Ingres, who led the mid-Nineteenth Century’s classical approach; Ingres is represented in the collection by a gemlike medieval scene and an incisive portrait of the Duc d’Orleans.
Ingres’s precise forms were countered by the rise of the Romantic movement, represented among the Atheneum’s paintings by its leading French representatives, Delacroix and Gericault. Since the Romantic movement was by no means limited to France, other diverse examples on view include a naval subject by the prominent English painter Joseph Mallord William Turner, and a recently acquired romantic landscape “Thunderstorm on Lake Chiemsee” by the German artist George Heinrich Crola.
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art is at 600 Main Street. For information, 860-278-2670 or www.wadsworth atheneum.org.
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