Saturday, January 22, 2011

Public Art

Following a period of estrangement marked by Romanticism, the marriage of artists and institutions was renewed in Rome in the early 19th century by the Nazarenes, a group of German artists who revived the art of monumental frescos. Their works, didactic and nationalistic in tone, paved the way for the creation of official forms of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Ludwig I in Munich, the Bourbons in Paris, and Frederick William III in Berlin encouraged such art as confirmation of their own sovereignty. Between 1830 and 1908. the new regimes in Europe saw art as a means of celebrating national achievements. After the French were defeated at Sedan in 1870, classicism in France was promoted as a form of nationalistic ideology linked to anti-Prussian feeling. Ernest Meissonier (1815-91) celebrated the campaign triumphs of Napoleons I and III in detailed canvases, while the frescos of Puvis de Chavannes (1824-98) redefined symbolic art, presenting an enigmatic, sparse view of history with little colour or line work. In England, in 1836, work began on the project of decorating the new Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, a building intended to encapsulate a national style. It involved artists such as Richard Redgrave (1804-88), William Dyce (1806-64), and John Tenniel (1820-1914). Elsewhere, a high moral tone was taken by Ford Madox Brown (1821-93), whose frescos for Manchester Town Hall (1878-93) illustrated episodes of the city's history. The second half of the century saw an "art for art's sake" philosophy emerge. Adherents to this included Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911) and Randolph Caldecott (1846-86). who worked on the decoration of Bank Hall in Derbyshire (1872-73).

                                                                  Ernest Meissonier
                                                              Ernest Meissonier

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