Here you will find three works of art from the realism period which focus on war history. With these works, a studio or the artist at work is not what is thought about, but the event itself. The Third of May, 1808 by Francisco Goya, pg 487 in The World of Art Francisco Goya's painting, The Third of May, 1808, is a firing squad; "the execution of citizens of Madrid by Napoleon's invading army" (Sayre, 2005). The painting is lit by a lantern with a man in a white shirt, arms outstretched as though he is surrendering. In the dark background you can see a shadowy church. This concentration of light, coming from low down, gives the feeling of a scene on the stage; and the buildings against the dark sky remind me of a backcloth. And yet the picture is far from being theatrical in the sense of unreal, for at no point has Goya forced or over emphasized a gesture. Even the purposeful repetition of the soldiers' movement is not formalized, as it would have been in official decorative art, and the hard shapes of their helmets seem to deliver their blows irregularly. In the late 1700s Goya became completely deaf so gestures and facial expressions became vivid and images stayed in his mind. The tapestry designs show some of Goya's characteristics: his unequalled gift for memorizing movement. The crowds in the streets were silent to him and every experience reached him through the eye alone. At this time Goya was an official painter when he saw the Spaniards show a little fight on the second of May. It was the beginning of a series of brutalities which stamped themselves on Goya's mind and which he set down in the most horrifying record of war ever made in any medium. Goya was born in the age of reason and after his illness he was obsessed by all that could happen to humanity when reason lost control. In The Third of May he shows one aspect of the irrational, the predetermined brutality of men in uniform. By a stroke of genius he has contrasted the fierce repetition...
References: Artchive.com (n.d.) The Third of May, 1808. Retrieved on March 1, 2006, from website http://artchive.com/artchive/G/goya/may_3rd.jpg.html.
Napoleon.org (n.d.) MEISSONIER, Ernest (1815-1891). Retrieved on March 1, 2006, from website http://www.napoleon.org/en/essential_napoleon/key_painting/second_empire.asp
Sayre, H. (2004). A World of Art 4th Edition. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (n.d.). Liberty Leading the People. Retrieved on March 1, 2006, from website http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Leading_the_People.
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