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The Oath of Horatii
Transcript of The Oath of Horatii
by Jacques-Louis David
Painted by Jacques-Louis David, the painting depicts the Roman story of the Horatii brothers' oath to defeat their enemies the Curatii, or die trying.The overt (seen) message shows an admiration of loyalty to the "cause" and patriotism.
David's covert (hidden) message is the encouragement of patriotism and endurance of suffering of the french resistance; telling the people to fight the monarchy.
Message in context:
The Oath of Horatii,
was created in
, which was about 5 years before the French Revolution. This was a period of unrest in France when the people were trying to overthrow the monarchy, giving rise to democracy.
, the painting depicts the Roman story of the Horatii brothers' oath to defeat their enemies the Curatii, or die trying.
I do believe that this painting was successful as clearly depicts the emotion and thoughts of the people around the time of the French Revolution. The painting initially was created to give the people a sense of hope and strength in a time of need and unrest.
The colours are simple and not very intense. This implies the message of simplicity and lack of fancy, decorated materials and decadence.
There is a lot of empty space in this composition and this also adds to the theme of simplicity.
Images that help to convey the message:
The stark and simple arches in the background help to give feel of seriousness to the painting.
The image of the Horatii and their father looking at the swords (held by the father) and their arms and hands pointing towards the swords imply their commitment to their oath, and again add to the seriousness of the painting.
The women also add an almost depressing mood to the painting. This could suggest the sadness that the French monarchy causes the people
A painting like this in today's world would work because art is a like a universal language. It tells a story and gives people messages without using any form of written words.
David has created balance in the painting's composition by having three arches in the background. Balance is also portrayed by the "brave" Horatii brothers on the left and the weeping women on the right.
This painting is one of the first to show a new type of movement/style called
. This new painting style broke away from the usual rococco style (Royal, wealthy, self indulgent and elegant).
It can be classified as neoclassical as it is simplistic and gives the viewer a sense of seriousness.
Elements and principles that help
to convey the message
The three brothers are standing tall, straight and proud whilst taking their oath, however the women are shown as curved/ bent over in sadness and mourning. This could possibly emphasize the contrasting opinions within France at the time.
David places emphasis on the Horatii brothers (and the message of the painting) by positioning them in the foreground of the painting.