THE EARLY ROMANTICS: GROS AND GIRODET
Although the French Revolution caused an upheaval in French art, there was an attempt to use Neo-Classicism to return to the pure and historical origins of art. However, compelling contemporary events and a new regime interested in using art as propaganda worked against the dominance of Neo-Classicism in the Academy. Even before the term was applied, “Romantic” art began to appear, the earliest of the French Romantic artists were the Napoléonic painters, Gros and Girodet. Both students of David, the young artists uneasily made the transition from the Neo-Classicism of their master to the demands of the new century.
The early Romantic artists in France were mostly court painters to the new emperor Napoléon and it is one of the ironies that these supposedly “romantic” artists were, in fact, servants to imperialism and empire. Individuality was a matter of style, rather than true freedom of expression. In their early works, Gros and Girodet represented the poles of Romanticism: contemporary subjects and escapist subjects. In their choice of content, these artists who inherited the mantel of Neoclassicism rebelled against their “father,” Jacques-Louis David. In the next podcast, “Part Two” will examine the artists’ later works and discuss the roots of “Realism” found in Romantic art.
Also listen to: “The French Romantics: Gros and Girodet, Part Two” and “French Romanticism, Ingres, Part One,” and “French Romanticism, Ingres, Part Two” and “French Romanticism, Delacroix, Part One” and “French Romanticism, Delacroix, Part Two”