Sunday, September 13, 2009

09/10 Academic Decathlon French Revolution Art Selection #6 - Modern Rome

Modern Rome, 1757, Giovanni Paolo Panini, Oil on canvas, 67 3/4 x 91 3/4 in. (172.1 x 233 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art

We move away from the frivolity of the Rococo movement into an artistic return to the classical ideal. The classic aesthetic that the Greeks and Romans created continue to inspire artists through the ages. Neoclassical art can vary widely, but it looks back to classical art in one way or another. One reason for the rise of interest in classicism was the unearthing of the ruins in Pompeii and Herculaneum near Naples, Italy. These discoveries excited the people in the 18th century - they could see how people worked and lived ages before them.

The Grand Tour became a standard part of the education of privileged young men. Italy was at the heart of the Grand Tour - travelers would visit the important cities and sites studying, sketching and collecting artwork as a memento of their trip. Artists catered to this enthusiastic audience for all things classical. Panini was one of the great masters of vedute, or "view paintings" which were popular with the visitors to Italy on the Grand Tour.

This work by Panini, Modern Rome shows a very large gallery with paintings hung floor to ceiling; each painting is of a monument or building of "modern Rome" depicted from the eras of the Renaissance and Baroque. Gentlemen are portrayed in the gallery looking at the paintings. Panini even put in a self-portrait - he's dressed in gray, seated in an armchair and looking out of the painting. The paintings showcase the works of art and architecture a travelers would see on his Grand Tour.

Portrait of Giovanni Paolo Panini, 1705, Oil on canvas, 29.92 inches wide 37.99 inches high

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