2006
Style : French school

French school wall Art, canvas prints & paintings

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french school fine art prints and canvas prints

The term "French School" refers in art history to a tradition shared by French painters. It is a notion defined in retrospect.  It’s definition, chronology and truthfulness are still discussed. The French school was supposedly born in the 17th century and ended in the 19th century.
Throughout the 17th century, the term French school was not commonly used. Rather than being classified by school, artists were attached to great masters. We speak, for instance, of the "Ingresque painters". In 17th century were also founded major official artistic institutions such as l’Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture.  It was created in 1648 on the initiative of the French painter Charles le Brun and in charge of replacing the guilds in the supervision of artists. The notion of the French school is closely linked to this foundation, which marks the establishment of a national artistic identity. At the end of the century, authors address the notion of a French school of painting in their writings. In 1685, André Félibien, in his Entretiens, described the painters Simon Vouet, Jacques Blanchart and Nicolas Poussin as the pillars of the French school. Roger de Piles also mentions the French School amongst six others, although he doubts its homogeneity.

French school in the 18h and 19th centuries

In the 18th century, the French school continued to be defined and identified by authors. In 1746, Françoise Marie Marsy, in her Dictionnaire abrégé de peinture et d'architecture, defined five schools of painting, including the French school. The "French School" was also given an article in the Encyclopédie, written in 1755 by the Chevalier de Jaucourt. The Chevalier de Jaucourt describes the French School as beginning with the painter Simon Vouet, and defines its consecration in the work of Nicolas Poussin. He notes that it is distinguished by its "bon goût". Like Roger de Piles, he notes that "it is difficult to characterise this school in general" because of a lack of coherence between the works.  It is this point that leads authors like Johann Georg Sulzer to deny the existence of a French school. In 1771, in the Théorie générale des Beaux-Arts, he classifies French artists in a Roman school, because their works, according to him, are not characterised by distinctive elements.
It was only in the 19th century that the term French school was adopted, encouraged by the post-revolutionary nationalist spirit. In 1803, Dominique Vivant Denon defined it as "the most beautiful and almost the only school that exists in Europe".
These conceptions were continued in the following century. In 1926, Louis Dimier placed the origin of French art with classicism, and more precisely in 1627, when the painter Simon Vouet returned to France from Italy.
Today, this date is no longer accepted and the notion of a French school and its characteristics are still debated.

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Paintings, Style French school

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