(b. 1744, Paris, d. 1818, Paris)

Attributes of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture

Oil on canvas, 90 x 121 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

The old rivalry between painting and sculpture, the sister arts devoted to the imitation of nature, resurfaces in this painting. The painters had shown that, in their two-dimensional pictures, they were quite capable of offering several views of a body that was equally beautiful from all sides. What theoreticians had presented as an advantage of sculpture became a particular challenge to painting. A plaster Academy model of the antique Belvedere Torso (1st century AD, Rome, Vatican) is here rendered in paint. Like painting and sculpture, architecture was also considered an art of draughtsmanship. Inspired by Chardin, this academic still-life is devoid of all reference to the theme of vanitas that was generally present in compositions on a comparable theme by the older Dutch masters: the focus now falls upon the enlightened erudition of art.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.