Monday, July 22, 2013

Oath of the Horatii


This is the Oath of the Horatii painted by Jacques-Louis David in 1784.  It is a large oil on canvas painting 326 cm x 420cm that currently resides in the Louvre, Paris.  This painting depicts a scene from Roman legend of the war between Rome and Alba Longa.  It is said that instead of a full-fledged war an agreement was made that three brothers from the Roman family, the Horatii, would fight three brothers from the Alba Longa family, the Curiatii to the death.  This personal sacrifice of life was a symbol of man’s sacrifice for the greater good and saving their city from the sorrows of large scale war.  The source this legend is said to be built the story of David’s Oath in the first book of Livy (Sections 24-6).

This piece of artwork is unique because although it is a painting depicting Roman legend it has a plethora of neoclassical art style techniques.  A list of stylistic styles can be seen below but one of the main focus points is the convergence of the painting on the swords being held by the father.


This focal point highlights the story of three sons sacrifice to in essence save everything.  The focus on the swords brings in all of the elements of the painting, Women crying for the potential loss of life, the father presenting the swords to his sons, the architecture in the background, and finally the viewer, brings the moment to the viewer.

List of style choices:
-        Highlight (bright) figures in the foreground
-        Overlapping Ranks
-        Dull colors to show importance of story
-        Symbolism of the number 3
-        No brushstrokes to attention isn’t called to artist just the subject of the painting
-        Man are depicted with straight lines where the women are curvilinear
-        Woman are emotional and men are strong for their strong sense of duty
-        A depiction of a morally uplifting story


Jacques-Louis David: Art in Metamorphosis by Dorothy Johnson

Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art By Robert Rosenblum:

Source finding help from:


No comments:

Post a Comment