Academist painting by Andrew Hart
October 27, 2010, 6:06 pm
Filed under: art

The Academists, also known as eclecticists or academic painters, were a group of artists in the mid 1800s who were influenced by the French Academie des Beaux-Arts.  The Academie was famous for its Neoclassicist and Romanticist tendencies, and the Academics tried to blend the two together.

Though the movement was centered in France, its proponents painted and studied at universities throughout Europe and even Canada.  The foremost painter of the movement was probably William-Adolphe Bouguereau.  Other prominent painters of the movement were the excellently named Thomas Couture, Hans Makart (Viennese), Alexandre Cabanel, and Suzor-Cote (excitingly, Canadian).

Bouguereau was perhaps the most famous living painter during the height of his fame.  He became so famous that his biggest problem was that American millionaires were fond of buying his canvasses, which were thus rarely seen in Europe.  His works often show idealized peasant girls, mythological nude females, or allegorical scenes.  His rendition of The Birth of Venus is very reminiscent of Botticelli’s.  His The Bohemian is a good example of his idealized peasant girl genre.

Couture is best-known for the 1847 canvas Romans in the Decadence of the Empire, which is an orgiastic scene.

Markart is a fairly interesting fellow.  He dominated the Vienna painting scene for his entire mature career.  He was a self-styled “magician of colors” who was perhaps most infamous for designing the entirety of a Vienna pageant (costumes, processions, scenes, etc.) for Franz Josef and his wife Elizabeth of Bavaria in 1860; tihs became known as the Makart-parade.  His aesthetic Makartstil influenced a young Gustav Klimt, who later rebelled against Makart, his teacher.  His works were largely allegorical (Spring, Summer, etc.) and historical.

Cabanel was a painter of mythological and historical scenes whose fame largely rests with one work: The Birth of Venus.  (link).

Another fun fact: Anselm Feuerbach, the nephew of noted philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, was a German proponent of Academism.


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Nice topic; I am actually taking a course on 19th century French art and we’ve talked about these guys a fair amount (it was more “attacking” than talking, but that’s another subject).

Comment by BryanB

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