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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

The Oath of the Horatii




The Oath of the Horatii is considered one of the finest examples of Neoclassical painting - an influential European art movement of the 18th century.

The painting represents a famous myth surrounding the foundation of Rome, when the city was at war with its neighbour, Alba Longa.

To end the war, each city sent 3 brothers to fight it out - the Horatii against the Curiatii.

The painting represents the 3 Horatii brothers swearing to their father that they will defeat the Curiatii or die trying.

The painting is famous for its composition.

The number 3, a symbol of strength and stability, is omnipresent : 3 brothers, 3 sisters, 3 arches, 3 groups, 3 parts of the scene…

Most of the lines in the painting guide our eyes towards the tips of the swords - the symbol of the oath.

The men's strength is represented by bold, straight lines.

The women's despair is represented by soft, downward facing lines.

La Joconde, de Vinci (1519)


The Coronation of Napoleon

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