Gods and Heroes: Masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris
Pierre-Charles Jombert Apollo and Diana Killing the Children of Niobe, 1772 Oil on canvas 53 3/16 x 44 1/8 in. École des Beaux-Arts, Paris (PRP 17) Courtesy American Federation of Arts
Oct 11, 2014 to Jan 4, 2015
This rich overview of masterpieces from the École des Beaux-Arts—the original school of fine arts in Paris and a repository for work by Europe’s most renowned artists since the fifteenth century—includes approximately 140 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. These works of art explore heroic themes such as courage, sacrifice, and death, and the exhibition examines the ways that changing political and philosophical systems affected the choice and execution of these subjects.
The epic deeds of gods and heroes, enshrined in the Bible and the works of Homer, were the primary narratives from which both aspiring and established academicians drew their inspiration. Although mostly out of favor today, their ideology was rooted in the study of the idealized human form as envisioned in classical art. At the École, learning how to construct persuasive and powerful paintings from carefully delineated anatomy, expressive faces, and convincing architectural and landscape settings was understood by aspiring artists to be the route to success and recognition.
Gods and Heroes offers unique insight into the development of an aesthetic that fostered some of western art’s most magnificent achievements.
Gods and Heroes is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the École des Beaux- Arts, Paris. This exhibition is generously supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities, the JFM Foundation, and Mrs. Donald M. Cox. Funding for the catalogue is provided by the Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw Charitable Trust, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. In-kind support is provided by Barbara and Richard S. Lane and Christie’s.