While all artists create works that reflect their unique visions of the world, it takes courage and determination to successfully challenge the artistic standards of the day. In this course, we’ll consider five who did.

Sandro Botticelli stood apart from most Renaissance artists, who stressed single-point perspective, muscularity of form, and naturalism. His paintings reflect his training as a goldsmith, with a focus upon graceful lines, intricate ornamentation, and a sense of the ethereal. Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the greatest painters of the Baroque period. She rose from tragedy (she was raped in her father’s art studio by one of his colleagues) to take a stand against the stereotype of female submissiveness in art. Jacques-Louis David countered the frivolous Rococo style of his day with a cerebral brand of history painting that combined classical austerity with heightened emotion. His Oath of the Horatii served as a rallying cry for the republicans during the French Revolution. James McNeill Whistler was a leader in the Aesthetic Movement, advocating simple design and tonal harmony. Sensing a parallel between painting and music, he entitled many of his works “arrangements” and “nocturnes,” thereby negating any narrative intent. Paul Cezanne, who perceived reality in terms of its composite parts, stressed geometric forms and thick textures in his landscapes—a far cry from the traditional representation then promoted by the French Academy.

In this course, we will examine the lives and works of these five “mavericks” and discover how they influenced the development of western art. There will be a combination of presentation and discussion. Weekly preparation should take about an hour and a half.