Jacques-Louis David was the most prominent and influential painter of the Neo-classical artistic movement in France. He completed Leonidas at Thermopylae in 1815. David wrote extensively about his intentions for the work in the anonymously published Explication (1814). He wrote that he wanted calm acceptance and contemplation to rule the piece.
The subject of David’s Leonidas at Thermopylae is Leonidas who was a king of Sparta. In 480 BC, Leonidas fought against the invading Persian Army of Xerxes at the pass at Thermopylae. Although, Leonidas and his 300 men were vastly outnumbered by the Persian army, the managed to defend the pa...
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...sent the viewpoint of their time period. In the 19th century ideals were absolute and justified ends such as war and violence. By the 21st century, society had become a little bit more discerning. Two artists reflected the viewpoints of their times in their artwork. David, the great neo-classist of the 19th century, used his painting Leonidas at Thermopylae to idealize the concepts of honor, bravery, and valor during war. While originally, it was not well received, the painting has withstood the test of time and has gained recognition in the contemporary era. In the 21st Leon Golub portrayed war and violence in his Vietnam II under a much different light. Gone were the representations of David’s ideals. Golub replaced them with victims and horrors of war. His work portrayed society’s increased sophistication in how it approached the ideals of 19th century.
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