Sunday, October 04, 2009

09/10 Academic Decathlon French Revolution Art Selection #8 - The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus

The Triumph of Aemilius Paulus, 1789, Carle Vernet (Antoine Charles Horace) (French, 1758–1836), Oil on canvas, 51 1/8 x 172 1/2 in. (129.9 x 438.2 cm), The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This panoramic painting by Carle Vernet is a monumental history painting over 14' wide. The size alone would have gotten a lot of attention from the Salon, but he also displays a confident technical ability. He painting this piece as the Revolution was garnering strength and hoped that it would gain him full membership in the Academy.

The subject comes again from Roman history as described by the Roman historian Livy. The composition shows a throng of people witnessing the triumphant arrival of Amelius Paulus in Rome. Paulus, seated on the right side in a golden chariot, the men and women lauding him upon his return to Rome. The light is dramatically focused on Aemilius Paulus with the background full of examples of classical architecture. Because there are many monuments in this painting, the work is reminiscent of the vedute that people loved buying during their Grand Tour.

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