During the 18th and 19th centuries, artists began to feel in increasing pressure to create “original” works of art. Explore the relationship between art, “originality,” and “authenticity” by comparing the two works below. The first work by Henri Fuseli followed along the romantic vein, while the second work, by Ingres, is more Neoclassical. Can either or both works be described as “original” or “authentic” when compared to each other or in when considered considering the larger artistic traditions they represent? What formal qualities or other features of these works endow either (or both) of these works either “originality” or “authenticity?” What artistic sources or traditions do each of these images reference, and how might these references impact the “originality” or “authenticity” of the images? Use the quote below to shape your response.
Artist: Henry Fuseli (Swiss)
Title: Titania and Bottom
Date: c. 1790
Medium: Oil on canvas
Description: 85.5” by 108.5”
Background info: Fuseli, although Swiss-born, spent most of his life in England painting various scenes from English literature. In this painting, Fuseli portrays a scene taken from Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which Titania, queen of the fairies has become the victim of a miscast spell. A spell that made her fall in love with an actor whose head had been turned to that of a donkey. In this painting, Titania commands the fairies to obey the wishes of her knew found love.
Artist: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Title: The Apotheosis of Homer
Date: c. 1827
Medium: Oil on canvas
Description: 152” by 202”
Background info: Ingres was a student Jacque Louis David who gave Ingres solid academic training and grounding in the “rules of good taste.” It should be noted that even as a student Ingres was known for his tendency to exaggerate the subjects he painted. In this work, Ingres portrays the Apotheosis (or deification) of Homer, the ancient Greek poet credited with writing the Iliad and the Odyssey Homer was regarded as the greatest of Greek epic poets, and for this reason scenes of the Apotheosis of Homer can be found dating to as early as the 3rd century BCE. Ingres’ depiction includes a mix of classical and contemporary French and other European figures participating in Homer’s crowning.
Richard Shiff, Originality:
“Originality implies some sense of coming first, of doing first, a priority of lack of precedent: it therefore cannot be divorced from considerations of chronology and historical sequence. It is also linked to issues of class, a kind of social priority or lineage (on inherits class status and property, just as one does an artistic tradition). If artists must use what has already been shaped, how can they and their artworks attain originality? Perhaps originality is transmissible (the artists as inheritor and bearer of original first principles, a set of universal truths). And Perhaps originality is manifested when one alters existing directions or forces (the artists as countercultural deviator of a tradition or as social deviant).”
Rubric: The analysis will be graded according to the following scale…
25 pts: A perfect essay with no typos or grammatical mistakes; well organized; clear writing; valid points.
24: Contains a few errors
23: Contains even more errors, but is generally still good. Organization or content could be slightly improved.
22: More errors, awkward writing, missing a point.
21: Same problems, but more.
20: Same Problems, but even more. Contains several spelling/grammatical errors, disorganized, is missing two valid points.
19: Numerous errors, no supporting argument
18: Even more errors, poor organization
17: Worse still.
15: Barely decipherable, but something was handed in.