Oath Of The Horatii Analysis

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Painting and relevance:

Jacques-Louis David’s “Oath of the Horatii” was painted in 1784 and it was commissioned by the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture on behalf of the Kind Louis XVI. The inspiration of the painting had to come by Corneille’s Play “Horace” which was being performed in Paris during that time. In 1785 the painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon. The painting shows a decisive moment of will as well as a great family tragedy resulting from political consequences. The episode takes place in early Roman history; the three Horatii brothers make an oath to their father that they would fight and sacrifice themselves in order to save Rome from the Curatii brothers, representatives of Alba Longa. The tragic dilemma of the story lies in the fact that these two families where linked by marriage. Sabina, one of the Curatii’s sisters was indeed married to one of the Horatii, while Camilla, sister of the Horatii was betrothed to one of the Curatii.

This historical painting is regarded as one of David’s absolute masterpieces. It conveys heroism and patriotism, themes that will acquire fundamental importance during the French Revolution. However, these themes are represented by making use of a classical subject. Therefore,
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The importance of The Oath of the Horatii lies in its significant pre-revolutionary message as well as in the new style developed by David. The way in which the “Oath of the Horatii” is painted, in fact, challenged the rococo style. This style was characterized by unsymmetrical ornamental patterns and it dominated French art from the 1750s to early 1780s. This painting, instead, opened the way for neoclassicism. In particular, because of the innovations reflected in this painting, it can be considered both the manifesto and the pinnacle of

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