Modern European Cultural History
Essay Questions for Examination III

I. Short Essay (1 Question; 15 Points):  Select one (1) of the following questions and answer it fully.  The essay should be about two pages in length.  Illustrate your answers with specific references to artists, writers, or composers or to works of art, literature, or music. If sources are used, please cite them in your paper.  Your paper will be graded on its comprehensiveness, the quality of its argument, and the use of supporting evidence.  Review your essay for spelling and correct English usage.

1. Identify the moral qualities, values, and ideals evident in the Neoclassical style in painting.  Discuss David’s The Oath of the Horatii, both in terms of the story represented and the artistic techniques employed.  To which groups in 18th-century France did such a picture appeal and why?

2. 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.

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

4. 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, Rosa Bonheur, and Edouard Manet.

5. Historians have argued 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 (The Luncheon of the Boating Party) and Claude Monet (especially Impression: Sunrise and Water Lilies).

6. 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?

 7. Summarize and explain the characteristics of Abstractionism in the arts.  How does it represent a new and different way of looking at the world?  How has the nature of art changed since the Renaissance artists claimed that a painting was like a window onto the world?  In his treatise Della pittura (On Painting, 1435-6), Leon Battista Alberti, for example, stated that, when he painted a scene, he assumed the picture represented the visible world as if he were looking through a window.  Support your argument with specific examples from the text.

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Last Update: 15 April 2004

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