Emulation: David, Drouais, and Girodet in the Art of Revolutionary France

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More About This Textbook


This fascinating and elegant book tells the story of five painters at the center of events in Revolutionary France: Jacques-Louis David and his first cohort of precocious pupils, including the meteoric Jean-Germain Drouais and the astonishingly gifted but deeply troubled Anne-Louis Girodet. Written by a major art historian, it interprets in a new and original way the relationships between these men and the paintings they created. This new edition includes a revised introduction and incorporates the fruit of recent new research.
“Crow combines excellent formal and stylistic analysis of particular paintings with close attention to the psychological complexities and political and social contexts of the artists’ lives. He delves deeply into David’s and his students’ thematic choices, compositional strategies and personal relations in order to make his overarching political and aesthetic arguments.”—Lynn Hunt, New Republic
“A magisterial contribution to the history of art.”—Richard Cobb, The Spectator
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300117394
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2006
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Crow is director of the Getty Research Institute. He is also the author of Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris and Modern Art in the Common Culture, both published by Yale University Press.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2006

    'I have lost my emulation'

    So were the words of master painter Jacques-Louis David at the untimely death by smallpox at age 24 of his finest pupil Jean-Germain Drouais: the mutual impact these two painters from the Revolutionary period of France in the mid 1780s was one so palpable that it permeates this magnificent volume by gifted writer Thomas Crow. The original edition of this book was from the year 1995, but this current release is enhanced and expanded and is brought to us through the auspices of The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Crow writes so well that this heavy scholarly document becomes like a novel in his hands. He guides us through the politico-social changes that created such a massive upheaval in France (a subsequently the rest of the world) when monarchy was overthrown by common man to begin the era of democracy. This alteration of the ruling class as the 'father' of the people struck society in various ways. As Crow draws from this phenomenon he shows how important the loss of the father-figure was to artists. Each of the three main artists Crow details in this volume - David, Drouais, and Girodet - lost their true fathers at an earrly age and Crow demonstrates through biographical data and sketches and paintings just how much of an impact these events had on the change in painting that became the norm for neo-classicism. The book abounds in full color and black and white illustrations of the paintings, drawings, sketches, and prints of the painters of this time. And while Crow walks us through the period of change, sharing provocative examples of the vision of these painters in their reflection of and recreation of myth and history, he always keeps us tuned to the effects of the revolutionary mind on the influences of the painters. For this reader the chapter titled 'Too Beautiful for a Man' is the quintessential statement of the book and its purpose. Here are paintings such as Girodet's 'The Revolt of Cairo', 'Scene from a Deluge', and his portrait of the 'endowed' Jean-Baptiste Belly' Guerin's 'Aurora and Cephalus' and David's 'Leonidas at Thermopylae'. These paintings are each homages to the magnificence of the male physique. A similar study is presented in the chapter called 'The Wounded Warrior' in which Crow first shows us an image of the 200 BC statue of 'The Dying Gaul' and then proceeds to unveil painintgs by Drouais (who only painted six canvases in his brief lifetime) of 'The Dying Athlete', 'The Seated Gladiator', 'Philoctetes on Lemnos', and 'Marius at Minturnae', each of which captures the agony of man as well as the beauty of the masculine form. Crow ends his well-documented book with a chapter on the painters such as Gericault who were obviously influenced by this school of French painters. His summation is riveting. This is a fine book on important painters: it is also a fine book on the history of the impact of the Revolutionary times. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, June 06

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