2. James Abbott McNeill
Nocturne in Black and Gold –
The Falling Rocket
Oil on Canvas
23.7 in × 18.3 in
Detroit Institute of Arts,
Whistler’s intention was to
preserve the mood of the
fireworks as they appeared to
him, by not describing the
scene too literally.
3. Critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) and James Abbott McNeill Whistler
held opposing views. Whistler opposed accessibility of art by the
masses. He believed in “Art for Art’s Sake.
In his Nocturnes, Whistler declared modernism's affinity for the
abstract. In 1877, Ruskin published a letter regarding Nocturne in
Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, a painting by Whistler which
was included in the exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery.
Whistler sued Ruskin for libel. Whistler won but was devastated
financially. Ruskin resigned his professorship at Oxford. T
he trial was a debate between those who considered art to be vital
to social progress, and those who declared that art transcended
4. Art criticism emerged in the eighteen century in response to art
becoming more accessible through public exhibitions.
In France such exhibitions were called Salons. The Paris Salon was
held every two years and featured hundreds of artworks by mostly
members of France’s Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.
Critics began writing reviews about the aesthetic quality of the
artworks on display. Within a short period of time they started to
influence the public’s taste.
A MARKETPLACE FOR ART
The earliest exhibitions were organized by dealers and auctioneers.
Economic developments contributed to the creation of a new class: the
bourgeoisie who adopted the habits of nobility, to acquire art and other
Whistler vs. Ruskin trial coincides with the expansion of the art market.
MAKING ART AND ARTISTS:
THE ROLE OF THE CRITIC
5. The trial bankrupted Whistler but he established one of the
modernism’s central tenets: that art was the manifestation of the
artist’s emotional and intellectual will.
THE MODERN ARTIST
Until eighteenth century artists worked with the confines of
tradition. They were allowed to be inventive with the limits of the
tradition in which they worked.
The Oath of the Horatii is a large painting by the French artist
Jacques-Louis David painted in 1784.
David's stylistic simplicity eliminates the distraction from the
central moral of the story.
David even invented this scene to convey the essence of the
7. By the end of the eighteenth century the focus on emulation was
replaced by artistic invention which was linked the artist’s unique
In this context Romanticism emphasized individualism,
imagination, and free expression.
Romanticism promoted the artist as a “visionary genius” that
possessed the ultimate insight into fundamental reality and reveled
it though art.
Genius, for the Romantics, was something one was born with. It
could not be acquired through learning or other means..
Neoclassicism and Romanticism, the influence of art criticism, a
growing number of exhibitions, and a growing class of collectors
created the foundation of modern art.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ARTIST?: FROM ACADEMIC
EMULATION TOWARD ROMANTIC ORIGINALITY
8. William Blake
Color monotype print finished in ink
and watercolor on paper.
21 x 28 inches. Tate, London.
William Blake (1757 – 1827), British painter and printmaker, is an
example of the artist as a genius. His art consists of depictions of
biblical characters placed in a new unconventional context that
crosses into an unsettling realm.
The print depicts portraying the Old Testament Babylonian king
Nebuchadnezzar II who through hubris lost his mind and was
reduced to eating "grass as oxen“.
9. Neoclassicism opposed the tradition of
linear and atmospheric perspective as a
way to organize the pictorial space.
David and his followers didn’t abandon
the classical tradition. They altered it by
reducing the depth and details necessary
to create it.
David, in The Oath of the Horatii, kept the
viewer’s focus on the action of the two
groups: the men and the women.
Romantic artists relied on diagonals and
indefinite atmospheric perspective to
match their imagination. Romantic artists
wore more experimental and innovating.
MAKING SENSE OF A TURBULENT WORLD: THE LEGACY OF
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
Horse Devoured by a Lion,
1823, Lithograph. The British
The artist creates a strong
focal point to deliver the story.
10. HISTORY PAINTING
Neoclassical painters embraced
history painting, and the
philosophic ideals of the French
Revolution. However, they realized
they were limited by the lack of
painting models from early Rome,
As a result they focused on
sculpture of early Rome to draw
inspiration from. Ingres’ eclectic
mix of styles in The Grand
Odalisque prompted harsh
criticism when it was first shown.
Critics viewed Ingres as a rebel
against the contemporary style of
form and content.
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
The Grand Odalisque, 1814.
Oil on canvas. Louve, Paris.
11. This is worse, an etching and wash,
is part of his Disasters of War series.
The image depicts an event which
occurred in Chinchón in December
1808, when the French massacred
local men in retaliation for two
French soldiers who were killed by
This depiction is influenced in part on
the Hellenistic fragment of a male
nude, the Belvedere Torso by an
Athenian sculptor. Goya made a
study of this sculpture.
This is worse, c. 1812–1815
National Gallery of Scotland.
12. Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863)
Lion Hunt, 1861. Oil on Canvas.
The Art Institute of Chicago.
This painting was inspired by lenghty
trip Delacroix took in 1832, to
Morocco, Algeria, and Spain.
Delacroix was influenced by the hunt
pictures Peter Paul Rubens, the of
He was also influenced by John
Constable, Joseph Mallord William
These influences are clear in
Dealcroix’ use of color and painting
13. LANDSCAPE PAINTING
In Romantic art, nature with its
power and unpredictability, recall
the eighteenth-century aesthetic of
John Constable’s art reflects the
changing meaning of nature during
the industrial revolution. He
reposition the role of landscape
painting in the 19th century.
Constable never favored the
dramatic historical landscapes.
John Constable, The Hay Wain,
1821, oil on canvas,
National Gallery of Art, London
14. Turner himself witnessed the
Burning of Parliament from the
south bank of the River Thames.
Turner’s subjective exploration is
similar to Whistler’s. Both artists
conducted experiments to achieve
the dramatic effects of fire.
Ruskin preferred Turner because
he handled the space in a more
classical construction of pictorial
J.M.W. Turner, The Burning of the
Houses of Parliament, 1835.
Oil on Canvas.
Cleveland Museum of Art.
15. Jean-François Millet, The Angelus
Oil painting, 1857 and 1859.
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Millet often represented everyday
people with heroic grandeur.
Theodore Rousseau, Edge
of the Forest at Fotainbleau,
Sunset, 1850. Oil on canvas.
landscapes in a
stating that nature provided