Oath Horatii

Jacques-Louis David • Painting, 1784, 330×425 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene, Historical scene
Style of art: Classicism
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1784
Size: 330×425 cm
Artwork in selections: 60 selections

Description of the artwork «Oath Horatii»

Painting By Jacques-Louis David "The Oath Horatii" contributed to the emergence of a new style of painting, forming a school of French Neoclassicism.

The main sources of the story are "the History of Foundation of" Livy, books of Dionysius of Halicarnassus "Roman antiquities". The film shows the struggle of Rome with Alba-Longoi. A dispute between two warring cities was to be settled in the form of a ritualistic duel between three Roman brothers of the genus Horatii, and their opponents from the city of Alba Longa, brothers Curiatii.

The drama of the situation was the fact that the horaces and curiaces. were childhood friends, besides their linked relationships. One of the sisters Curiatii, Sabine, was married to Horace, while one of the sisters Horatii, Camille, is engaged to Curialium. However, the duty to the Fatherland in Rome set far above personal relations. Despite the close relationship between the two families, father Horatii blesses his sons in mortal combat, and the brothers in turn vow to protect the homeland.

Harmony pattern creates symmetry and balance of its geometric forms. The whole composition is built on the number three. The background of the painting, divided into three arches (they create visual stability), further darkened to highlight the figures in the foreground. In the center of the picture in the red coat – the father Horatii. He holds out his three sons three swords. Only one of the swords written right that was supposed to mean: only one survives out of three. In response to the three sons of Horace stretched hands to him, expressing readiness to fight.

There is a perception that this gesture – the arm extended forward at chest level, i.e., the infamous "ridge" used by the Italian fascists and the German Nazis - inspired by just a picture of David "the Oath Horatii". Attempts to erect a "ridge" to the much earlier sources and label it as "Roman salute" did not find scientific confirmation.

There is a large number of sketches "Oath Horatii". Three of them ("Three brothers of the genus Horatii", "Old Horace"and Camilla) is represented in the Museum of the French town of Bayonne, sketch "Sabine"in the Museum of fine arts of Angers, and the preparatory drawing General arrangement is kept at the Palace of fine arts in Lille.

About how significant the role of the painting "the Oath Horatii" played in the fate of Jacques-Louis David, can be read in the biography of the artist.

Author: Oleg Vybivaet