Ark of the Covenant (n)
in Christianity and Judaism, gold-plated wood chest into which Moses placed the tablets inscribed with the law of God. The Ark resided in the Temple of Jerusalem during the time of King Solomon (in the 10th century B.C.), but its history since then is unknown.
Barbizon School (n)
group of naturalist painters who met in the French village of Barbizon from 1830 to 1860. Barbizon landscape painting anticipated the open-air painting technique of the Impressionists.
Baroque (adj; n)
of or relating to the period of European art and architecture extending from the 17th to the early 18th century, characterized by extravagant, theatrical forms and including dramatic manipulations of space, vivid illusions, opulent color, movement, and strong contrasts of light and dark.
Bonaparte, Napoléon (Napoléon III) (1769–1821)
French general who declared himself emperor of France in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1789. His grand aim was to expand France’s boundaries: he declared himself king of Italy, replaced the Bourbon king in Spain with his brother, and tried in vain to invade both Britain and Russia. After military defeat, he was imprisoned but escaped and tried to regain power until definitively beaten at Waterloo (in Belgium) in 1815. Exiled to a small island in the southern Atlantic, he died in 1821.
British Royal Academy of Arts (n)
founded in 1768 in London, with Sir Joshua Reynolds as its first president. The Royal Academy provided classes in drawing, painting, and sculpture for young students. Annual exhibitions allowed artists to show their works in hope of receiving commissions from wealthy patrons.
either of a pair that mutually make up a whole or that complete each other; complementary colors are paired hues that appear across from one another on the color wheel. For example, the complement of the primary color yellow is purple, which is made by blending the two other primary colors, red and blue.
term used to characterize 18th-century philosophy and culture, which was driven by the belief that reasoned thinking brings about social progress. Because of their emphasis on knowledge gathering and empirical reasoning, Enlightenment thinkers were typically antireligious and critical of institutions such as the Catholic Church, which they saw as antirational. In art, Neoclassicism mirrored Enlightenment thinking, since its visual style was grounded in Classical antiquity, a period in which art was based on orderly principles such as balance, harmony, and restraint.
branch of anthropology concerned with the study of specific human cultures based entirely on fieldwork. Ethnography requires complete immersion of the anthropologist into the group or culture under study.
fête galante (n)
roughly translated from the French term as “elegant party”; subject popularized by the painter Jean-Antoine Watteau depicting outdoor social gatherings of the upper classes, elegantly dressed or in theatrical costume, engaged in leisure activities such as flirtation, dance, or music making
First Crusade (n)
first of a series of wars waged by European Christians between 1096 and 1099 to wrest control of the city of Jerusalem and specific sites of importance in the life of Christ from Muslim powers. During the First Crusade, Jerusalem was captured, and a government ruled by a religious authority was installed.
referring to or deriving from the northern part of present-day Belgium, traditionally referred to as Flanders, in which the Dutch language is spoken.
Franciscan Order (n)
largest monastic order of the Catholic Church, founded in the early 13th century by St. Francis of Assisi, who advocated preaching, penance, and total poverty. Members of the original Franciscan order lived simply and helped the poor and sick.
French Revolution (n)
series of political upheavals in the late 18th century that reached a climax in 1789 and resulted in the end of the French monarchy. Spurred in part by the rising wealth of merchants and professionals, hostility of peasants to the traditional feudal system, and the general embrace of Enlightenment ideas, the French Revolution unfolded as a series of public revolts and governmental reforms. Internal dissention among the Revolutionaries rendered most of their reforms only sporadically successful until Napoléon Bonaparte gained power in France beginning in 1799. Later revolutions erupted in France in 1830 and 1848.
in Muslim countries, the area of the household set apart for female family members. Harem may also refer to the women—servants, wives, and relatives—themselves.
Holy Family (n)
in the Christian religion, Christ; his mother, the Virgin Mary; and her husband, Joseph (others may also be included, such as Elizabeth, the Virgin’s cousin, and her son, John the Baptist)
Holy Land (n)
in the Bible, area of the eastern Mediterranean, including Jordan and Israel, held sacred by Christians, Jews, and Muslims
progressive style that originated in France in the late 19th century dedicated to capturing the rapidly changing modern world and fleeting moods of nature; characterized by optical blending of pigments to depict the fluctuations of light. Subjects featured views of everyday middle-class life in the city and countryside of France.
Louis XIV (1638–1715)
king of France (also known as the Sun King) during the late Baroque period. Louis assumed total rule in 1661, establishing an absolute monarchy founded upon the idea that he was God’s representative on earth. Ruling from Versailles, his residence and the seat of the government, Louis supported numerous artists and writers during his 54-year reign.
Louis XV (1710–74)
great-grandson of Louis XIV, became king of France at the age of five, ruling through, a regent (Phillipe II, duke of Orléans), until he came of age in 1723. The king's lack of leadership and failure to implement reform contributed to conditions that eventually gave rise to the French Revolution of 1789. His mistress Madame de Pompadour was a strong patron of the arts. Louis's reign is associated with the Rococo period in French art.
queen of France and wife of King Louis XVI. Marie-Antoinette was an enemy of the French Revolution and prompted her husband to resist reforms sought by the revolutionary National Assembly. She was especially unpopular with the French public and was imprisoned, along with Louis. Both were executed in 1793.
May 2, 1808 (n)
popular uprising amongst the lower classes in Madrid, Spain, against invading French soldiers under the command of Napoléon Bonaparte. Though some local uprisings were successful, the Madrid revolt was suppressed.
relating to something fictitious or from myth. Myths are often ancient stories that help to explain the natural world and define social traditions.
style of painting concerned with representing nature or real life (as opposed to religious, mythological, or historical scenes) in a manner in which the painted subject closely matches the actual appearance of its subject
period in art and architecture, from 1770 to 1830, when artists drew inspiration from ancient Greece and Rome. Neoclassicism rejected the highly elaborate decoration of Rococo art in favor of balance and restraint.
open-air painting (n)
painting outside, so that nature is confronted directly. The Barbizon School artists regularly employed the technique of painting outdoors, though it was used more extensively by the Impressionists later in the 19th century.
Ottoman Turks (n)
Turkish tribes in Anatolia, a region of Turkey, who established a powerful Muslim empire in the 14th century to combat the eastern Christian (Byzantine) empire. The Ottoman Empire came to an end in the early 20th century.
mid-19th-century movement, led by Gustave Courbet, in which artists strove to create representations of the world that were objective, unemotional, and democratic, focusing on common people and everyday activities rather religious or allegorical themes. Realist artists rejected the idealism of Salon painters, whom they considered too traditional and unaware of the realities of modern life. Realism culminated in the Impressionist movement.
French word meaning "rebirth;" in 15th- and 16th-century Europe, a period marked by the revival of art, architecture, learning, and literature emphasizing and often imitating Classical examples from ancient Greece and Rome. Although the Renaissance was initially centered in Italy, aspects of Renaissance culture also appeared in northern Europe.
supporter of a republic, a type of government in which citizens are entitled to vote and are represented by a group of elected officials. In 18th-century France, Republicans were revolutionaries who sought to dissolve the monarchy and give a greater share of power and representation to the lower classes.
Revolution of 1848 (n)
series of revolts against European monarchies that began in Italy and spread to France, Germany, and the Austrian Empire. In France, the population revolted against the monarchy of King Louis-Philippe, which had been established in the wake of the earlier revolution of 1830. The 1848 French rebellion was briefly successful, resulting in reforms such as universal suffrage (right to vote), until Louis-Napoléon, Napoléon I’s nephew, seized power and established the Second Empire in 1852 under his own leadership as Napoléon III.
Rococo (adj; n)
of or relating to a period that emerged at the end of the Baroque characterized in art by decoration; lightness in tone, in both color and mood; and the use of organic forms and asymmetry in design. Subjects in painting include the fête galante. Centered in France, the Rococo style was international, flourishing especially in Austria, Germany, and Italy.
of or related to Romanticism, a movement in the first half of the 19th century that involved a rejection of the rigid rationalism of Neoclassicism in favor of imagination and emotional expression. Romantic writers and visual artists found fault with the idea of social progress through science and industry put forth by Enlightenment thinkers. Instead, artists turned toward nature, spiritualism or mysticism, and non-Western cultures for personal and artistic inspiration.
Rubens, Peter Paul (1577–1640)
major Flemish artist of the Baroque period who was sought after by patrons across Europe for his expressive paintings that combined religious and mythological themes with dramatic lighting, bold color, and dynamic compositions
Rousseau, Jean Jacques (1712–1778)
French philosopher and theorist at the center of a group of Enlightenment thinkers known as the philosophes (“philosophers”). In his writings, Rousseau argued that progress had corrupted the natural goodness of humans and that inequality among men was the product of increasing alienation from nature. Rousseau advocated for a new type of private life, urging for the expression of emotion rather than polite restraint in social relationships and for care, interest, and love in childrearing.
official art exhibition held annually (after 1737) for members of the French Academy (Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in the 17th and 18th centuries and the Academy of Fine Arts in the 19th and 20th centuries). Objects shown were selected by a jury, and invitations to exhibit often secured an artist’s reputation. In the later 19th century, the Salon lost control over the Paris art world when competing exhibition venues established by independent groups, such as the Impressionists, were founded.
Second Empire (n)
regime established under Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (Napoléon’s nephew), who ruled as Napoléon III, after the fall of the constitutional monarchy in the Revolution of 1848. The authoritarian Second Empire was a two-decade period of relative stability and only came to an end with the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870–1871.
Tasso, Torquato (1544–1595)
late Renaissance Italian poet and author of the epic poem Jerusalem Delivered (Gerusalemme Liberata) generally credited with reviving the ancient epic format. Though emotionally troubled, Tasso authored a number of other poems, including an extensively revised version of Jerusalem Delivered, retitled Jerusalem Conquered (Gerusalemme Conquista), that eliminated the romantic passages, which he considered distracting to the Christian theme.
unifying elements (n)
in art, backgrounds, colors, and/or forms that lend visual coherence, especially to a work consisting of multiple parts, such as a suite
van Gogh, Vincent (1853–1890)
Dutch artist who worked for most of his short career in Paris and the southern French town of Arles, where he had planned to create an artists’ colony with artist Paul Gauguin. Extremely prolific, van Gogh created over 1,000 drawing and paintings in a 10-year span. His oil paintings are characteristically executed with bold, expressionistic brushstrokes and high-keyed and sometimes jarring color combinations.
Velázquez, Diego (1599–1660)
major 17th-century Spanish Baroque painter who trained in Seville and eventually became painter to the king under Philip IV. Primarily a portraitist, Velázquez painted still lifes, genre images, and history subjects as well. His most famous work is Las Meninas, an enigmatic group portrait of the Spanish royal family that also includes a self-portrait of the artist.
royal residence southwest of Paris transformed by King Louis XIV from a hunting lodge into a dazzling palace with formal gardens. Every aspect of Versailles, designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, Louis le Vau, and Charles le Brun, was contrived to glorify France and the Sun King (Louis XIV), with extensive reliance on themes of light and reflection, best seen in the Hall of Mirrors.
Zurbarán, Francisco (1598–1664)
17th-century Spanish painter whose works employ powerful realism and, typical of Baroque art, dramatic lighting to create heightened emotional effects. Zurbarán’s compelling images of Catholic saints helped promote Counter-Reformation values. A contemporary of Diego Velázquez, he also served as court painter for King Philip IV.