19th century - early 20th century - Romantic Generation
With Romain Cazes, Eugène Delacroix and even Louis Duveau, comes a time of reaction and questioning of the davidian doxa. A veritable criticism of the models and sources of neoclassicism emerges.
The vision of Antiquity given by the painting and teaching of David seems to be rejected.
With his Soul in Exile (1838), Romain Cazes, pupil of Ingres, allows us to understand the shock experienced by his master, a former pupil of David, when he discovered Rome, the painting of Quattrocento and of Raphael. Moulay Abd-er-Rahman, Sultan of Morocco, Leaving his Palace in Meknès, with his Entourage (1845) illustrates Delacroix's astonishment when, in Morocco in 1832, he too thought he had retrieved the genuine Antiquity, the Antiquity the davidians had not seen.
More than an ideal Antiquity, it is a completely new ‘elsewhere' that this generation of artists seeks. Travel, often further afield than previously, the use of historical subjects, this time borrowed from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, like the priority given to colour over drawing, all give shape to a veritable renovation of the arts.
The Abdication of Doge Foscari (1850) by Louis Duveau, a late work, condenses all of these novelties and furthermore illustrates the links between contemporary painting and literature; the episode depicted was borrowed both from the play by Byron (The Two Foscari, 1821) and from Verdi's opera (I due Foscari, 1844). The old doge Foscari is the victim of an odious conspiracy which forces him to relinquish his role on the pretext of the relative disdain in which he holds business after the death of his only son, imprisoned without proof for a murder he had not committed. We see him descending the Giants' Staircase of the Doge's Palace, accompanied by his daughter-in-law and his brother, at the moment when, having surrendered his ducal ring, insignia of his dignity, he pronounces these historic words: "My services established me within your walls; it is the malice of my enemies which tears me from them".
Louis DUVEAU (Saint-Malo, 1818 - Paris, 1867),
L'Abdication du doge Foscari,
Inv. 2004 1 105
Photo : STC - Mairie de Toulouse