Art historian Professor Mark Ledbury will explore history painting in 18th-century France using Jacques-Louis David's academy competition painting Apollo and Diana Attacking the Children of Niobe as a point of departure. Ledbury will discuss the difference in how artists approached prescribed versus freely chosen subjects. How did they make their choices? What did they read? What role did lived experience, critics, advisers, peers, and friendship circles play in choices of narrative and in the treatment of those chosen? Such questions can help us explore and understand some of the most striking and bizarre history paintings of 18th-century France with fresh insight.
Mark Ledbury is Power Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Power Institute. His research focuses on 18th-century French and British painting. He is the author of Sedaine, Greuze and the Boundaries of Genre (Oxford, 2000) and James Northcote, History Painting and the Fables (New Haven, 2014), and he has written and edited books, chapters, and articles that often focus on histories of genre and on theater and the visual arts in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Image: Jacques-Louis David, Apollo and Diana Attacking the Children of Niobe, 1772, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O'Hara Fund in honor of Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, 2008.6.FA