The Oath of the Horatii (1784) by Jacques-Louis David

The Oath of the Horatii - Jacques-Louis David - 1784

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Oath of the Horatii
ArtistJacques-Louis David
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions330 x 425 cm
Art MovementNeoclassicism
Current LocationLouvre, Paris, France

About The Oath of the Horatii

“The Oath of the Horatii,” created by Jacques-Louis David in 1784, is an oil on canvas masterpiece emblematic of the Neoclassical movement. The artwork, measuring 330 x 425 cm, is a history painting and is currently housed in the Louvre in Paris, France. This grand work of art captures a moment of stoic resolve and patriotic sacrifice as depicted in the Roman legend.

The artwork is a composition of strong lines and dramatic use of light and shadow, anchored by the central action of the Horatii brothers swearing an oath. The three brothers, positioned on the left, display a concerted gesture of reaching out towards the swords held aloft by their father. This group is set against a backdrop of sturdy columns and archways, symbolizing the strength and durability of Rome.

Contrasting with the solemn determination of the men, the right side of the painting shows the emotional toll of the event on the women of the family. They are portrayed in various states of sorrow and despair, physically bowed under the weight of imminent loss. Their flowing garments and the softer curves of their postures provide a poignant counterbalance to the rigid stances of the men. The dichotomy between the stoic male figures and the grieving women encapsulates the Neoclassical ideal of valor and sacrifice juxtaposed with human sentiment and familial bonds.

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