Loustaunau's Fountainbleau

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French painter, Louis Auguste Georges Loustaunau, modeled his Study of the Chateau at Fountainbleau (1870s) painting after the spectacular palace at Fountainbleau. Located near Paris, the palace was built under the commission of Henry II and Catherine de Medici. The painting depicts an outdoor corridor of the chateau on a bright day where the light can be seen reflecting through the columns onto the opposing stone walls. The open hallway allows for the image to be indoors, yet also open to the outside air.

Like many romantic landscape painters before him, Loustaunau depicts his scene with columns and walls enclosing a path that guides the viewer’s eye towards the back of the painting. Directly at the center of the painting is the extent of the corridor before it disappears around the corner. The detail of the stone is so intricate that each flaw in the stone is visible to the human eye; every chip in the columns and carving in the architecture is flaunted. The imperfections of the stone bring the painting to life.

Loustaunau appears interested in the effects of light and how it was manipulated by the architecture to create shadows. He also shows how this dark hallway, enclosed by columns, walls, and corners, can be brightened by a few rays of light to give a new feeling to the architecture and whole section of the palace. The painting can symbolically be expressing the artist’s distain for the continuing political unrest in France and the sunlight streaming into the corridor could represent an optimistic hope for stability and order. This may also be seen by noting that the dark hallway could be fully illuminated by the sunlight, but the columns block a large amount of that light coming through.

There is also the element of nature. One cannot see nature itself, but because the light is coming through the columns, it is known by the viewer that turning only a few degrees to the left is the difference between observing nature and looking down a...
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