Saturday, March 29, 2014

40 Days of Paintings - Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Bouguereau)

You may notice I've been doing these 40 Days of Paintings in (somewhat) chronological order starting from the Renaissance, moving into the brief Mannerism and into the Baroque.  Now we're going to fast-forward about 100 years after the late Baroque period.  The 18th century is one that I typically skip in my love for art history.  In that century, the rise of Rococo began... which, in my opinion was the ugliest art movement until the very unfortunate rise of "modern art" in the 20th century.  Anyway, the Rococo fizzled out, and we started seeing a rise in what was to be called the Neo-Classical artists in the late 18th century and early 19th century.  This included one of my favorites in art - Jacques-Louis David.  I won't be covering him in the 40 Days, but he's certainly a runner up for me, and I'll give him an honorable mention by saying my favorite painting of his is the "Coronation of Napoleon," a huge 20x32 ft. multi-figure painting that hangs in the Louvre in Paris.  Look it up, and if you're fortunate enough, go to Paris and see it.  Hopefully I'll be able to cross that item off of my bucket list one day.
Anyway, getting to the painting for today.  Out of the Neo-Classical artists came one of the greatest art movements in history - the 19th century Realists.  And the man considered to be something of a prophet or father of this movement is William-Adolfe Bouguereau.  I don't particularly worship him the way many artists of today do, but I love his work, and my favorite piece of his by far is "The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ." 
Bouguereau was a pure academic painter.  He entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1846, which was basically the Oxford of art academies.  You really didn't enroll in the academy unless you were already pretty good.  Through his training and study under Picot, Bouguereau revolutionized the art of figurative painting.  His work with the human form was executed with a life-like brilliance.  The "Flagellation" was painted later on in his career, and demonstrates his skill at its finest.
Bouguereau lived what I would call a reverse artist's life.  He was well-known and favorited by many, and was also quite prosperous during his life.  It wasn't until after his death that he fell into obscurity was nearly forgotten.  Fortunately, his legacy is alive again with the advent of the new realists of today, and I am optimistic that we are seeing the next great period of art in my lifetime that will once and for all overshadow and bury the embarrassment known as modern art.  It is not even as though we are trying to start a new movement of realism.  I see it as continuing a tradition that should have never left in the first place.

Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ
oil on canvas

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