Monday, July 12, 2010

Closed Monday

Here's another gem from a recent trip to the Metropolitan Museum.

Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Lavoisier by Jacques-Louis David

This portrait is somewhat overshadowed by it's neighbor, David's masterful "Death of Socrates".  The portrait of Lavoisier doesn't have the bravado of that somewhat earlier work but there's a confidence in the understatement.

David, of course, was a Jacobin and this painting was not permitted by the Monarchy to be exhibited.  Lavoiser was also a revolutionary.  Known today for his contributions to chemistry, he was ultimately executed on the word of Marat (the subject of another David masterpiece -a painting often used as the cover for the greatest historical study of the era de Tocqueville's "Old Regime and the French Revolution").  He held the uneviable position of taxpayer. Marat claimed he was using false weights, selling cut tobacco and was in league with foreign counterrevolutionaries, probably payback for a slight delivered years earlier.

Years later Lavoisier was exonerated and his property returned to his widow.

Beautiful glass and subtle light in this painting.

The air in the room also forms part of the portrait.  A remarkable work.

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