From August 20, 2011 to May 13, 2012 – Museum of Fine Arts Boston
European art of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries is dominated by two powerful artistic movements: Neo-classicism and Romanticism. Neo-Classicism is marked by purity, austerity, clarity, and an almost abstract obsession with the linear. The style was stimulated by the recent archaeological discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum and by pageants and festivals of the French Revolution that referred back to Republican Rome. By contrast, Romanticism was an art of extremes, of melodrama: the dramatic interplay of light and shadow rather than linear purity. Romantic artists believed in nature—whether wild landscape, wild beasts, or the animal impulses of humankind—as an uncontrollable force, inspiring awe and terror. “Passion and Precision in the Age of Revolution” features about forty-five works by artists including Ingres, Delacroix, Desprez, Prud’hon, Turner, Blake, Gericault, Girodet, Flaxman, and Schinkel.