Eighteenth Century Art


Neoclassicism is the movement in arts that tends to draw inspiration from classical culture and art of ancient Rome and Greece. With increased popularity of what was popularly known as the Grand Tour, it became stylish to collect different antiquities as part of souvenirs. This is what spread the Neoclassical style through America and Europe. This report aims to explain Neoclassicism through the art work of Jacque-Louis Davids “The Oath of the Horatii”, including the analysis of the background, social culture and techniques.

The Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis is an oil on canvas painting. The art tends to capture a defining moment when three brothers pledge an oath of fighting to death for Rome and their family. Two women sit motionless behind the father knowing too well that a brother or lover would be killed. The artwork tends to portray sorrow and pain. This is a typical example of a Neoclassical history painting that tells a story about virtuous behavior. The dramatic as well as rhetoric gestures of male figures conveys the idea of oath taking. Moreover, the clear and even-light tends to make every aspect of the story decipherable to the viewers (McCoy, n.d).

After a close observation of the painting, one notices that the artist utilized color and line with the aim of accentuating the focal point. These in turn illustrates shadows, curves of clothing, as well as skin tone creating realism (Asteria, 2017). In addition, the artist incorporated Roman and Greek clothing including the Turic. Moreover, the art work took a clear, delineated shading and drawing. In addition, David radically cuts off space using arches hence pushing the action to the painting’s foreground in a manner that is similar to a Roman relief sculpture.

In conclusion, it is evident that the Oath of the Horattii is a typical example of Neoclassicism. This is because; realism is created through use of shadows, colors and lines.


McCoy C (n.d). David, Oath of the Horatii. Retrieved from:

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-art-history/later-europe-and- americas/enlightment-revolution/a/david-oath-of-the-horatii Asteria (2017).

Analysis of Jacques-Louise David’s Oath of Horatii. Retrieved from:


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