NeoclassicalPainting and Virtue
Neoclassicalpaintings are significant works of the neoclassical art, a movementthat defined the period that dominated in the eighteenth, andnineteenth century. Like any other neoclassical art, neoclassicalpaintings were inspired by the classical ancient art and culture. Inthis regard, the neoclassical paintings created their meaning topeople by invoking the epics and stories of the classical times. In abid to pass a message, the classical paintings encoded subtexts ofdriving a message from the situations, state of affairs and thepeople they represented. By citing the Oathof the Horatii neoclassicalpainting, this paper will explore the intention of the neoclassicalpaintings to be examples of virtue.
TheOath of the Horatiiis an eighteenth century painting completed in 1784 by Jacques-LouisDavid, a French artist.The most conscious element of the painting that qualifies it thisdiscussion is the impact that it had to the public in terms of praiseand criticism (Winkler 4).This made the painting one of the most of the most known neoclassicalstyle paintings. The painting describes a scene where three brothersfrom Horatii take oath to stop the fighting between two roman cities,Alba Longa and Rome (Jacques-LouisDavid 1).The brothers decide to sacrifice their life to defeat the Alba Longaand end the conflict. This painting shows the importance of havingsome virtues in the society, the virtues that made the brothers totake a binding initiative to end the fighting.
Likeother neoclassical paintings, the Oathof the Horatii showsthe need for patriotism and sacrifice for the country. The paintingillustrates the extent that ancient people went to protect theircity. Like the three brothers, they took the virtue of sacrificingtheir lives for their country. As it is seen in this painting, thebrothers vow to fight as they are being handed their swords by theirfather (Jacques-Louis David 1).By making their oath in front of their father, the painting showsthat it is virtuous to make a commitment to the family, even aspeople commit to be loyal to the country. With stretched hands andlimbs ready to fight, the three brothers become the symbol of thehighest level of virtues in Rome.
Likemany other neoclassical paintings, they also describes the virtuesheld by women in the community in the light of commitment andsacrifice by their men. In the painting Oathof the Horatii, themother and the sisters are sitting behind the father and seen to becrying (Jacques-Louis David 1).They cry because they know they may lose the brothers and the wifeknows the battle is a loss to her since she was in contact with thecity of Longa. The painting shows the importance of family, but alsothe superiority of the duty to the country over private feelings. Thebrothers overcame the private feeling of love for their family andsisters to respond to the call of the country, which is a virtue.
Justas like neoclassical paintings showed the virtues that should be heldin the society, the Oath ofthe Horatii illustrates the highestdegree of sacrifice. The painting illustrates the sacrifice of thebrothers to fight for Rome and protect the city at the expense oftheir private feelings and families. This makes the painting one ofthe most known and significant neoclassical works as it demonstratesthe example of virtues to the society.
Jacques-LouisDavid: The Oath of the Horatii. Web,Accessed,<http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/neocl_dav_oath.html>
Winkler,Martin. The Roman Salute: Cinema,History, Ideology. Columbus: OhioState University Press, 2009, Print