This said I did less studio time this week. Working on paintings of "Tate's Hell" in Bristol, Florida and read less than I usually do.
What I did read was about the transition from Neo-Classic to Romanticism. These artists mostly studied with Jacques Louis David who let this students take great strides in painting and thus many have a different style than he.
The first artist I will talk about is Antoine-Jean Gros. He was a student of David and in his Napoleon in the Plague House at Jaffa (1804; Musée du Louvre, Paris), we get a first look at the new fashion of Orientalism. This would play into on of the main characteristics of Romanticism; a love of the exotic. In this painting Napoleon is visiting the plague hospital at Jaffa. Not only does he visit he also can be seen touching the shoulder of one of the plague victims. This was commissioned by Napoleon in an attempt to lessen the bad publicity he was getting at the time for having his own soldiers, who had fallen victim to the bubonic plague, poisoned before leaving Egypt. 1
"On his return to Paris in 1801 he exhibited his Sappho at Leucadia (Bayeux Museum), a painting which he had begun in Italy and which, with its theme of suicide, allied to the nocturnal gloom of the landscape, typifies the young painter's Romantic leanings. But his main works were concerned with a different kind of Romanticism." 2
Next week I will look at two more artists that would go on to influence Romanticism and talk about a second characteristic of this style.
1 Gardner's Art Through the Ages,
2 Antoine-Jean Gros, http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/old-masters/antoine-jean-gros.htm