SUVÉE, Joseph-Benoit
(b. 1743, Brugge, d. 1807, Roma)

Invention of the Art of Drawing

Oil on canvas, 267 x 131,5 cm
Groeninge Museum, Bruges

A number of Bruges painters earned international renown during the neoclassical period, forming what might justly be called a Bruges school of Neoclassicism. Joseph B. Suvée even won the Prix de Rome, beating Jacques-Louis David into second place. He later became a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris and director of the Académie de France in Rome. It was largely thanks to his efforts as a teacher in Paris and Rome that a succession of former pupils of the Bruges Academy were able to embark on international careers.

In the painting traditionally titled The invention of the Art of Drawing, Suvée tells the well-known story of the daughter of the Greek potter Butades, who draws the shadow silhouette of her lover. This rational, balanced composition can be seen as a symbolic illustration of the Platonic aesthetic theory that underpinned classical art - art as shade of reality.

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