Great Cultural Epochs II

The Aristocratic Baroque Style:
France and England in the Seventeenth Century

Part I: France, Arts, pp. 406-424; Versailles Web Site (

1. How does Hyacinth Rigaud's portrait of Louis XIV epitomize the idea of Absolutism, the idea (so possibly said Louis XIV) that "L'etat, c'est moi"? How does the French aristocratic baroque style in painting, architecture, and music "make such abstractions as the divine right of kings, absolutism, and the politically centralized state seem real to the senses"? Why was [is] this necessary?

2. Explain why Louis XIV abandoned the Palace of the Louvre in Paris and built his new palace at Versailles. What function did this palace and its rituals serve? How can both the palace at Versailles and its gardens be described as a symbol of the absolute monarchy described by contemporary political theorists like Jean Bodin or Jacques Bénigne Bossuet?

3. List the major characteristics of Bernini's bust of Louis XIV and Pierre Puget's Milo of Cortona. How has the Italian baroque style been adapted to suit French taste?

4. Compare and contrast Peter Paul Rubens' Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus and Poussin's Rape of the Sabine Women. If necessary, look up the stories depicted in the paintings. What are the major features of each man's art?

5. Explain what the French mean by Academicism. What function did Louis XIV assign these academies? How were they successful?

Part II: England, Arts, pp. 424-437.

1. How was the political situation in seventeenth-century England reflected in the English aristocratic baroque style? How is the English like or different from the French style?

2. English architects like Christopher Wren and James Gibbs sought to adapt the continental baroque style to less flamboyant English tastes. Explain how this was done in the case of St. Paul's Cathedral and the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

3. Explain how Handel's oratorio Messiah is representative of the baroque style.

4. Summarize the main points made by Fleming in his discussion of the "dynamics of the baroque" and the "expansion of time and space". Indicate how these ideas under-lie the baroque style, whether Counter-Reformation, Bourgeois, or Aristocratic.

The Bourgeois Baroque Style:
Holland in the Seventeenth Century
Discussion Questions:Arts and Ideas, Chapter 15.

Part I (pp. 438-452): Be prepared to discuss the following questions in class.

1. Describe fully Jacob van Ruisdael's Quay at Amsterdam and Jan Vermeer's View of Delft. What do these two paintings reveal about 17th century Dutch civilization?

2. How is the "Bourgeois Baroque Style" different from the "Aristocratic Baroque Style" and the "Counter-Reformation Baroque" style? What accounts for these different styles in painting, sculpture, and architecture?

3. Identify the types of pictures favored by the Dutch [be able to define and discuss "history scenes," "landscape," "genre scenes," "still-lifes," "portraiture," and "corporation pictures"]. Give an example of each from the pictures discussed in the chapter. Why were these types favored?

4. List and discuss the distinctive features of Rembrandt's paintings; pay particular attention to the self-portraits. In so doing, discuss at least two of his paintings.

5. What is etching? Why did Rembrandt find this technique congenial?

Part II (pp. 452-459): Be prepared to discuss the following questions in class.

1. Compare and contrast one major work by Rembrandt, one by Ruisdael, and one by Vermeer. What does this comparison tell us about the Bourgeois Baroque Style?

2. List and discuss the major features of Bach's music. Which of these features also belong to the general category of the bourgeois baroque?

3. How did the source of patronage affect the arts in Holland?

4. A recent book on 17th-century Dutch civilization was entitled The Embarrassment of Riches. Based on your analysis of the characteristics of Dutch civilization and the pictures discussed in class, decide whether or not this title is appropriate and why.

Styles of the 18th-Century:
The Rococo, Sensibility, and the Enlightenment
Discussion Questions: Arts and Ideas, Chapter 16.

1. For each of the 18th-century styles, the Rococo, Sensibility, and the Enlightenment, identify time, place, and the nature of patronage; also list the characteristics of each style. How does Gersaint's Signboard by Antoine Watteau symbolize a change in regime and style in France?

2. Compare and contrast the French Rococo Style with the Aristocratic Baroque Style in architecture, painting, and sculpture. Compare, for example, the Hall of Mirrors with the Salon de la Princesse in the Hôtel de Soubise.

3. Identify the major feature of the German Rococo Style in architecture using as examples the Hofburg and Belvedere Palaces in Vienna, Dominikus Zimmermann's Wieskirche in Bavaria, and the Kaisersaal in Würzburg.

4. Compare Antoine Watteau's Music Party with the Village Bride by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, explaining how the first illustrates the Rococo Style and the second Sensibility.

5. List and illustrate the main features of the French Enlightenment. How can the German Sturm und Drang movement be viewed as a reaction against the Enlightenment?

6. According to Fleming, it was in opera that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was able to "explore the endless variety of tragic and comic situations" and to utilize his dramatic powers to their fullest. Using Don Giovanni as an example, examine the validity of this statement. How can Don Giovanni be viewed as a synthesis of eighteenth-century styles?

The Neoclassical Style:
Late Eighteenth-Early Nineteenth-Century France

Discussion Questions: Arts and Ideas, Chapter 17

1. Explain why the late 18th century was so captivated by the classical tradition that an entire movement in the arts -- the Neoclassical -- was based on it and flourished. Why do such "revivals" in the arts occur? Compare and contrast the Neo-classical style with its immediate predecessor, the Rococo.

2. Identify the moral qualities, values, and ideals evident in the Neoclassical style in painting. Discuss David's The Oath of the Horatii and Lictors Bringing Back to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons, both in terms of the stories represented and the artistic techniques employed. To which groups in 18th-century France did such pictures appeal and why?

3. Compare and contrast David's Oath and the Lictors or Angelica Kaufmann's Cornelia Pointing to Her Children as Her Treasures with the Neoclassical style in architecture and city planning favored by Napoleon I. What conclusions about the Neoclassical style can be drawn from this comparison?

4. Explain what characteristics the "sonata form" in music and the Neoclassical style in painting and architecture have in common.

5. What characteristics do the French Enlightenment and the Neoclassical style have in common? What does the simultaneous existence of these two movements, not to mention that of the Rococo and Sensibility described in the previous chapter, reveal about the nature of France in the late 18th century?

The Romantic Style:
A European-Wide Movement, 1780s-1840s

Part I: Discussion Questions: Arts and Ideas, Chapter 18, pp. 511-537; 542-545; Romanticism Handout.

1. Identify the major features of European Romanticism between the 1780s and the 1840s, indicating which countries had prominent romantic movements and which forms of the arts were most involved in romanticism. Name at least two major romantic writers, artists, sculptors, architects, and composers for each country and pair each writer, artist, sculptor, architect, or composer with a major work.

2. Identify the characteristics of the Romantic Style found in the paintings of Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Géricault, and Francisco Goya and in the sculptures of François Rude.

3. Identify the main features of the romantic taste for the exotic, particularly the romantic fascination with the Orient. Discuss either Delacroix's Massacres at Chios or Ingres' The Turkish Bath.

4. How can the Medieval or Gothic revival be said to be characteristic of the Romantic Style? (See Arts and Ideas, pp. 522-527; 542-545; and the quotations from Victor Hugo and Chateaubriand in the handout).

Part II: Discussion Questions: Arts and Ideas, Chapter 18, pp. 537-542; Romanticism Handout.

1. Romanticism, the individual, and nature. Read William Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey and be prepared to discuss the questions on the accompanying study sheet.

2. Read the excerpt from Wordsworth's "Preface" to Lyrical Ballads; explain how reading it helps us understand the poet who wrote Tintern Abbey [a poem which appeared in Lyrical Ballads].

3. Study the paintings of John Constable, J. M. W. Turner, Caspar David Friedrich, and Thomas Cole. What do these works (especially Constable's The Hay Wain and Salisbury Cathedral) have in common with Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey? What characteristics common to the Romantic Style are found in the paintings of Constable, Turner, and Thomas Cole?

Realism, Impressionism, and Symbolism:
Styles in Arts and Ideas, 1850s-1890s
Part I: Realism (Arts and Ideas, 547-560)

1. Identify the changes in the European life style of the mid-nineteenth century that fostered the advent of the Realist style. Indicate the opportunities as well as the problems these changes offered writers, architects, novelists, and artists.

2. Identify the main characteristics of the Realist style in painting. Indicate which of these characteristics are present in specific paintings by Honoré Daumier, Gustave Courbet, Thomas Eakins, Edouard Manet, and Edgar Degas.

3. Explain the elements of Realism in the sculpture of Auguste Rodin and the architecture of Henri Labrouste and Joseph Paxton. How did these architects combine the new materials of the industrial age with traditional ideas about the nature of buildings?

Part II: Impressionism, Postimpressionism, and Symbolism (Arts and Ideas, 560-581).

4. Fleming argues that the Impressionists "discovered a new method of visual representation." Explain what this method was and the theories that lay behind it; give special attention to the invention of photography. Illustrate your answer with reference to specific paintings by Eduard Manet (especially the Bar at the Folies-Bergère), Auguste Renoir (Le Moulin de la Galette à Montmarte) and Claude Monet (especially St. Lazare Train Station).

5. Postimpressionism is often called a reaction against Impressionism. Explain how such a reaction is evident in the works of Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, and Paul Cézanne. It has been argued that there are two distinctly different types of Postimpressionism. Identify the characteristics of each of these types and the artists that exemplify them.

6. Identify the main features of the Symbolist style, indicating how works by Maurice Maeterlinck and Claude Debussy represent this style. Summarize the key ideas of Henri Bergson, indicating how they may have influenced the arts in the late nineteenth century. Pay particular attention to Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's At the Moulin Rouge.

Early 20th-Century Styles, 1900-1914

Readings: Arts and Ideas, Chapter 20 (pp. 583-603).

1. Summarize the basic characteristics of the twentieth century. Cite examples from this chapter that illustrate the impact of these characteristics on the arts.

2. Explain the characteristics of Expressionism and Abstractionism in the arts; how do they represent two different ways of looking at the world? Pay particular attention to pre-1914 German Expressionism, especially the Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter movements. 3. Explain how Cubism came into existence and the role of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon in this process. What were the Cubist artists attempting to accomplish? What characteristics of Cubism are typical of twentieth century art in general? How can the invention of the twelve-tone system of musical composition be said to be the counterpart of Cubism in painting?

4. An important characteristic of the twentieth century has been an interest in so-called primitive cultures. Explain the nature of this interests and the reasons for it, illustrating your answer with references to specific paintings and musical compositions.

5. Identify the main characteristics of Fauvism and Futurism, indicating paintings which illustrate each movement. Which movement do you prefer and why?

6. Pick one work of art discussed in this chapter and explain why you like it enough to buy it or hate it enough to recommend its immediate destruction.

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Last Update:  09.III.2000

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