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Degas’s the Rehearsal and David’s Oath of the Horatii, Essay Example

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The two paintings examined, The Rehearsal by Edgar Degas and Jacque-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii, are two examples of Impressionism and Neoclassicism, respectively.  While both have drastic differences, both of these disciplines lie on opposite ends of realism, telling stories with images captured in a subtle yet unnatural state.  Impressionism seems to echo a world in motion, Neoclassicism uses bold, clean figures that depict events and people in a narrative. Degas’s work is filled with a strong use of light and movement, while David’s uses stark contrasts of light and dark.  Oath of the Horatii uses three distinct spaces to show the characters of the painting; action is more or less portrayed.  However, in The Rehearsal we can see real movement, and the view is even obstructed by a large staircase, as if the viewer is moving his head to take the whole scene in.  The vivid colors found in The Rehearsal are nowhere to be found in The Oath of the Horatii; in both paintings the colors are very essential in understanding the stories.  Moreover, David’s work is precisely executed and his subjects are statuesque, and Degas’s uses light brushstrokes that indicate activity and life.  There is vibrancy in The Rehearsal that adds to its realism, and The Oath of the Horatii is full of images that convey emotion, but by the positions of the subjects alone.  Although their differences run deep, both pieces achieve the same goal of capturing the essence of their moments.

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