Oath of the Horatii
This Neoclassical painting by Jacques-Louis David almost immediately became a large success with critics of the time and remains one of the best known paintings for Neoclassicism. The painting is of a ancient Roman legend. The legend goes that there was a dispute between two warring cities, Rome and Alba Longa. Three brothers from a Roman family agree to end the war by fighting three brothers from a family of Alba Longa. The three brothers all appear willing to sacrifice their lives for the good of Rome, and salute their father who holds out their swords. The painting is done very realistically with normal proportions and muscled male characters. The background of the painting is de-emphasized while the figures in the foreground are emphasized, much like the earlier Baroque paintings. It is in a form of snapshot moment, attempting to capture the emotion of that moment. The women are the only people in the painting that show tremendous emotion, being very sad that they may lose their husband, or brother. The men however are shown with a strict determination to do their duty.
Why This Artwork?
This artwork was chosen to because of its importance to the Neoclassical style, and its logical proportions and strict emphasis on the subject, not the portrayal. All of these are very important to the Neoclassical style and make this a important painting because it displays all of them.