Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Rise of National Identity

This gallery is tied around the rise of nationalism in the late 18th and early 19th century seen through the romantic style of art. All of these paintings are centered around revolutions in favor of a national identity, beginning with the American revolution. The American rebels, led by their fearless leader George Washington, fought the British in order to free themselves from foreign rule in order to set up their own nation built around their own ideas. Later in time, the French Revolution was sparked based upon the success of the American Revolution and a desire to build their own form of government for the people, causing a historical connection in their fights for identity. This connection was also seen in both countries’ art of the time, romanticized art. This style of art incorporates large amounts emotion and drama surrounding an event or an individual. The artist paints in such a way in order to provoke an emotion or a reaction from the viewer through the use of oil on canvas in order to get a more detailed picture. Due to art being greatly influenced by the culture around it, artists drew from their surroundings, wars of independence and identity, to be their subjects. All of the paintings in the gallery are drawn from the Romantic eras of the American and French Revolutions and their similar fights for a national identity.

Washington Crossing the Delaware, Emanuel Leutze, 1851, Oil on Canvas, 97.34.

            During the American Revolution, the battle of Trenton was key in turning the tides of war in George Washington’s favor. The flag in the center of the main boat is used to promote an American identity. It represents the American nation after their success against the British, due to flag’s number of stars and the style in which it appears. The pose of George Washington represents a feeling of confidence in battle in order to present the viewer with a sense of awe in his confident pose. The entire painting gives a larger than life view of nationalistic fervor amongst Washington and his men in their fight to build an American nation.

Washington Rallying the Troops at Monmouth, Emanuel Leutze, 1854, Oil on Canvas, Doe Memorial Library at Univeristy of California at Berkely
    This painting by Leutze depicts another battle in the American Revolution. In this battle, Washington helps the Continental Army withstand the British attack after losing much ground and many troops. With Washington as the central figure, he has a slight glow around himself causing the viewer’s eye to glide towards him in order to feel his confidence in battle. This work shows George Washington leading his men into a losing battle, which is how the rest of the world viewed the American Revolution due to the power of the British Empire. His successful stance shows his great leadership in the face of trouble and that he will guide his men into the forming of a nation.

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, John Trumbull, 1820, Oil on Canvas, Rotunda of the U.S. Capital.

            This is the last American Revolution painting in the gallery. In this work, Washington has finally defeated the British Army and ended the war. The American flag flies high in the sky to show the birth of a nation and the hope for the future. Washington rides his horse above a dismounted Cornwallis to show his superiority in battle against him. This is a great example of North America finally pushing out England in order to officially become a country. This work shows the satisfaction that comes with realizing nationalistic dreams.

Liberty Leading the People, Eugene Delacroix, 1830, Oil on Canvas, the Louvre.

            This is the first painting in the French Revolution section of the gallery and it is the most well-known work produced about the revolution. The woman in the middle holds the French flag produced by the French state during the revolution. This was the sign of the French Revolution that the country did not adopt after the fighting ended. The people gather around her with expressions of nationalistic pride as they see the flag held high. This shows how the nation is rallying around the same ideals and goals as they fight for their national identity.

Napoleon Bonaparte Leading His Troops Over the Bridge of Arcole, Horace Vernet, 1826, Oil on Canvas, Private Owner.

            In this painting, Napoleon Bonaparte is depicted as a fearless leader as he charges over the bridge with the ripped French flag in hand. He portrays confidence as he calls his men to follow him into battle. This painting brings the viewer’s attention to Napoleon himself and the flag that he carries. Napoleon is shown as the leader of France due to his position in front of the army as he leads his men with the French flag in hand. This shows that he is willing to charge into the face of danger in order to help his country on the rise of nationalism.

Fighting at the Hotel de Ville, Jean Victor Schnetz, 1833, Oil on Canvas, Musee de la Ville de Paris.

  This last painting shows another fight for French identity, but it takes place after the French Revolution. This fight takes place during the July Revolution, or the Revolution of 1818, as France tries to change its form of government once again. The man in the center holds the flag of the French Revolution, which was not the official French flag at the time, showing a call to revolutionary ideas and feelings formed in the past. This shows that the French people crave a certain identity that they have not yet found causing more drastic change to their national identity.

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